The sand tiger shark is a species of large requiem sharks native to the Indian Ocean and western Pacific Ocean. They are found around coral reefs and sandy areas near coastal waters. Their length ranges from 2 to 4 meters long.
Sharks are cartilaginous fish that belong to the subclass Holocephali within Chondrichthyes. This group contains many deep sea species that are poorly known.
Carcharhinidae Rafinesque, 1810
Order Lamniformes Bleeker, 1860
Family Carcharhinidae Rafineque, 1810
Genus Carcharhinus Cuvier, 1797
Sand tigers are one of the most recognizable species of shark. Their name derives from the sandy bottoms where they live. Like many sharks, sand tigers are slow swimmers. However, unlike other sharks, they are able to move along the bottom without having to constantly swim up and down. This allows them to feed efficiently while remaining undetected.
The sand tiger’s body plan is similar to that of the great hammerhead shark, except it lacks the hammerhead’s large dorsal fin. Instead, sand tigers have a small triangular fin located above each pectoral fin. A row of dark spots runs along each side of the shark’s head. These spots give the shark a mottled appearance.
A sand tiger typically grows about 7 feet long. Males grow slightly larger than females. Females mature around age 12, whereas males reach maturity at age 14. Mating occurs during the spring and summer months. Gestation lasts approximately three months.
The word “habitat” comes from the Latin verb habere meaning “to possess.” So, it seems like a perfect fit for the sea creatures we call sea stars. These starfish are often seen swimming around near the surface of the water looking like little floating rocks. But, what you might not know about sea stars is that they actually live on the bottom of the ocean floor. Sea stars are typically found living along rocky shores where there is plenty of sand and sediment for burrowing. However, some species do venture out into deeper waters, making them great candidates for scuba diving.
Behavior and Hunting
Sand tiger sharks are one of the most mysterious species in the ocean. While many people know about great whites and makos, few others know about sand tigers. These gentle giants live in tropical waters around Australia and New Zealand, where they spend much of their lives swimming slowly near the bottom. They rarely swim above the surface unless they’re hunting for food. In fact, they don’t even breathe while they’re doing it. Instead, they use an organ called the spiracle, located behind each eye, to take in oxygen.
Sand tigers are ambush hunters. They wait quietly beneath the waves, waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass within reach. When a suitable target appears, the sand tiger lunges forward and sinks its teeth into the flesh of whatever it catches. Then, it holds onto its meal until it gets tired. If the animal doesn’t die immediately, the sand tiger lets go and returns to the surface to replenish its supply of air.
Population of Sand Tiger Shark
The great white shark is among the most abundant large fish in the world, inhabiting tropical waters around the globe. Great whites are known to inhabit every ocean basin except for the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica. They reach lengths of up to 20 feet and weigh over 3,000 pounds. Their lifespan is typically about 30 years.
Although this species is widespread and not widely fished for human consumption, it has one of lowest reproductive rates of all sharks and it is susceptible to even minimal levels of fishing pressure. This makes it vulnerable to overexploitation. As such, it is listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In addition, it is protected in much of the region where it lives, making the species especially sensitive to threats like habitat loss and pollution.
Are Sand Tiger Shark Danger to Humans
View Shark Attacks by Species on a World Map
The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) reports that there have been 29 verified cases of people being bitten by a sand tiger shark since 1854. Of those cases, 23 involved human fatalities. The most recent fatal attack took place off the coast of Australia in April 2017.
While these animals are not aggressive when left alone, their large size and conspicuous protruding teeth demand respect and special care should be taken while fishing.
Sand Tiger Sharks are typically found in shallow coastal waters, including estuaries, lagoons, inshore reefs, bays, creeks, rivers, estuaries, tidal pools and mudflats. They feed primarily upon small fishes, crustaceans, molluscs, echinoderms and occasionally larger invertebrates such as crabs. Sand Tigers are generally solitary, although they do form groups during mating season. They are known to hunt cooperatively, especially if prey is scarce.
Shark attacks by sand tigers are rare and tend to occur when the animal is feeding on smaller prey. Most attacks involve only one bite, although some individuals have been observed attacking multiple victims. Bites usually take place in shallow water, where the victim is often unaware of the shark’s presence. Victims are typically swimming away from shore, rather than toward it.
A few instances of sand tiger sharks biting humans have been reported, though most attacks are minor scratches. A few serious injuries have resulted from sand tiger shark bites, including deep puncture wounds, amputations, and even death. Some of these incidents were caused by sharks that had become habituated to humans and were acting aggressively.
Fun Facts About Sand Tiger Sharks
Sand tiger sharks are found in warm waters around the world and prefer shallow coastal areas. They eat fish, squid, octopus, crabs, shrimp, small mammals like turtles and dolphins, and even sea birds. Some sand tiger sharks live up to 30 years and reach sexual maturity at about 20 years old. Females give birth every two to three years.
Sand tiger sharks can grow to lengths of 10 feet or more. Males average 6-8 feet long and females are slightly shorter. Their bodies are covered with tiny scales called denticles. These scales help protect them against abrasive surfaces. Sand tiger sharks also have an extra set of gills located behind their eyes. This helps them breathe air instead of saltwater.
Sand tiger sharks are very territorial and will defend their territory vigorously. If another shark enters its area, it may chase the intruder out of the area. However, if the other shark persists, the sand tiger shark will eventually leave the area.
Sand tiger sharks have excellent vision and hearing. They use both senses to locate food and avoid predators. They also use their sense of smell to find food.
The sand tiger shark has a distinctive pattern of dark spots on its body. It has no dorsal fin but does have a row of small spines along its back. Its tail is short and thick.
Sand tiger sharks have sharp, pointed teeth that are used for catching prey. They also use their teeth to scrape algae off rocks and coral.
Size of Sand Tiger Shark
The largest great white shark ever caught weighed in at 159 kilograms (352 lbs), according to a study published Monday in Scientific Reports. The catch occurred off South Africa’s Gansbaai beach in December 2017, and it was verified via CT scans of the animal’s skeleton. This makes it one of the heaviest great whites ever recorded.
Researchers say the size of the shark is due to its diet, which includes seals, penguins, turtles, dolphins and even smaller sharks. Great whites are known for being able to eat prey larger than themselves, but most of the animals they consume weigh less than 10 kilograms (22 pounds).
Diet of Sand Tiger Shark
The diet of the sand tiger shark consists primarily of fish, including larger species such as mackerel, tuna, jackfish, barracuda, groupers, snapper, jacks, tunas, grouper, and smaller species such as mullet, eelpout, and shrimp. They are known to eat crustaceans such as crabs, lobster, crayfish, prawns, and shrimps. In addition, they occasionally eat sea turtles, dolphins, porpoises, seals, birds, and even mammals. Sand tigers are opportunistic predators, feeding mostly during daylight hours. During the night, they rest in caves, crevices, and holes near coral reefs, and hunt mainly at depths of 5–25 meters.