Tiger Shark Tiger Shark fish
Tiger Sharks


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Tiger Shark

The Tiger Shark is called Tiger Shark because of its black, tiger-like markings. Its Latin name is Galeocerdo cuvier and it belongs to the family Carcharhinidae. The famous markings are found on the dark gray-brown back of the Tiger Shark, while the underbelly is off-white. Young Tiger Sharks display spotted markings; spots that will grow together and form stripes as the Tiger Shark matures. The Tiger Shark is equipped with a special type of gill slits (spiracles) located behind the shark's eyes. These gills slits brings a flow of oxygen directly to the eyes and the brain. One other interesting feature on the Tiger Shark's body is the electro-receptors that make it possible for the Tiger Shark to sense electric currents in the water. In addition to this, the Tigers Shark has a supreme sense of smell and very good eyesight. This combination makes the Tiger Shark a superb predator. A Tiger Shark can become up to 20 feet (6 metres) long, but the average size is 10 feet (3 metres). Its body is large and thick, with a blunt snout. The Tiger Shark has a long and rather pointy caudal fin, and there is a dermal ridge to bee seen along the back of the Tiger Shark, between the two dorsal fins. The second dorsal fin is considerably shorter than the first one. The teeth of a Tiger Shark are extremely serrated, like the edge of a saw. They are also razor-sharp and curved, and located in four rows that will rotate into use when necessary. The Tiger Shark will use its first two rows of teeth to catch its prey. When a Tiger Shark looses or hurts a tooth, or when a tooth becomes worn down from frequent use, the tooth will simply be replaced by a new one that rotates into the old ones place. In Tiger Sharks, the teeth are the same in lower and upper jaws.

The Tiger Shark will use its teeth to seize anything it can catch alive. It is opportunistic and usually keeps an exceptionally varied diet, which includes such preys as fish, mammals, sea birds, reptiles, crabs, lobsters, clams, squids, octopuses, sea turtles and even other sharks. Parts of whales, dolphins and porpoises have also been found inside the stomach of Tiger Sharks. A lot of people are afraid of the Tiger Shark, but even though it is true that attacks from Tiger Sharks have occurred, people are not sought out and hunted as prey by the Tiger Shark. The feeding habits of the Tiger Shark has been the focus of many scientific studies over the years and are well known compared to those of many other shark species. The Tiger Shark has gained a reputation for its tendency to include very unorthodox elements in its diets. When studying the stomach content of Tiger Sharks, scientists have found very surprising objects, including a ladies pyjamas, a rubber tire, a roil of chicken wire, tar paper, a bad of potatoes, some shoes, a dog, a can of Spam, rags, bottles and a sack of coal. As mentioned above, the Tiger Shark is very opportunistic and will happily turn from hunter to scavenger when possible. When studying Tiger Sharks that inhabited an area were offal from slaughterhouses had been dumped, the scientists found parts of horses, cattle and sheep in the stomachs of the Tiger Sharks. A Tiger Shark captured off Durban in South Africa contained the head and forequarters of a crocodile. The Tiger Shark is considered a relatively languid shark, and the frequency with which certain types of food end up inside the stomach of a Tiger Shark depends on how much effort the Tiger Shark will have to use to obtain them. Scientists studying Tiger Sharks outside Hawaii found out that the Tiger Shark tend to eat different things during different stages of its life. The smallest Tiger Sharks outside Hawaii turned out to be nocturnal and feed primarily from the bottom. Their diet consisted mainly of bony fish, cephalopods, crustaceans, birds and land mammals. The larger Tiger Sharks on the other hand, fed primarily on eight types of prey. Just like the smaller Tiger Sharks, the larger sharks ate all the five prey types mentioned above, but they also included a lot of marine mammals, sea turtles and elasmobranches in their diet. The increasing size, or increased hunting efficiency, makes a dietary change possible. This is common in many other shark species as well. It can sometimes also be a result of a change in geographic region as the shark grows older.

Tiger Sharks are typically found from the surface and down to 1,200 feet (340 metres). They live close to the shoreline, as well as in open waters. The Tiger Shark inhabits tropical and subtropical costal waters all over the globe, and can also be found in certain temperate waters. In the North Atlantic, Tiger Sharks are frequently found year round outside the coast of Florida, but they can migrate as far north as Nova Scotia in Canada during their seasonal migration. Tiger Sharks are also famous for their long journeys throughout the North Atlantic, and Tiger Sharks sometimes travel from the North Atlantic and all the way down to South America and Africa. Tiger Sharks seem to prefer coastal environments, but spend quite a lot of time in pelagic areas far from the coast as well during certain stages of their life. Studies indicate that small Tiger Sharks live in other areas than larger Tiger Sharks, which is most likely a way to avoid fights and predation. Tiger Sharks will eat other Tiger Sharks if possible.

One nursing ground for Tiger Sharks has been found on the continental shelf outside the southeast U.S. The approximate area extends from outside Augusta in Georgia to outside Daytona in Florida. The nursing ground reaches down to around 55 fathoms. There is also one Tiger Shark nursing ground located off the North Carolina coast. Tiger Sharks are solitary animals and come together just to breed. Studies on Tiger Sharks in the Northwest Atlantic showed that they matured at about 8.5' FL, which indicates a maturity age of roughly 7 years. This is true for male Tiger Sharks as well as for females. The females will therefore have reached 20 to 25 percent of their maximum age when they become mature, and will have time to reproduce at least 10 times before reaching their maximum age. They have a two year reproductive cycle. Unlike the other members of the family Carcharhinidae, the Tiger Shark is ovoviviparous. This is sometimes also called aplacental viviparity. The embryos will hatch from eggs inside the mother and develop inside her uterus, but they will not receive any nutrition from the mother via a placenta or similar. The Tiger Shark usually produces 35 to 55 embryos, which is quite a large number for an ovoviviparous animal. There are reports of up to 82 Tiger Shark embryos in one litter. The gestation period for Tiger Sharks has not been confirmed, and some sources claim 9 months while others believe the gestation period to be more than one year. The female will give birth during late spring or early summer. Newborn Tiger Sharks are 20-30 inches (51-76 centimeter)

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