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The Tiger Shark

Joe Barger

Science III

December 10, 1999

The Tiger shark?s name derives from the distinctive dark bands that run from the top of it?s back down along it?s sides. The stripes are very evident in younger sharks because the stripes start to fade away as it ages, then turning a gray or brownish color. However, all of the Tiger sharks have an off-white ventral surface. The Tiger sharks? scientific name, Galeocerdo cuvier, consists of its Genus, Galeocerdo, and Species, cuvier, names. The Tiger shark belongs to the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Class Chondrichthyes, and Family Carcharhinidae. Tiger sharks can grow in size up to 20 feet (6m) and in weight 800 pounds. Some Tiger sharks have exceeded these measurements but the average is about 12ft. and 600lbs.

Tiger sharks can be found worldwide in tropical waters and most temperate seas. They are most commonly found along the coast of South Africa, the Philippines, Australia, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and in the Caribbean?s. The Tiger shark is quite flexible in tolerating different habitats. They inhabit both the surfaces of shorelines and deep, open waters (up to 500 miles away from shore and 150m deep). A few have been found in rivers and small lagoons.

The Tiger shark is second to the Great White in being most feared by humans. They are very strong and fast. They use their powerful caudal fins to swim over 20mph. And they have an excellent sense of smell and keen eyesight. Their teeth are saw-edged, razor-sharp, and curved. Their teeth are located in rows and rotate into place as needed. They replace the broken or worn down teeth in both the lower and upper jaws. Most Tiger sharks swim in deep waters during the day and come to shore to feed during the night. The Tiger shark has earned the nickname the “garbage can” shark. They will take a bite out of anything and then sees if it likes it. Many shocking objects have been found in the stomachs of Tiger sharks including license plates, a baby goat, a suit of armor, a case of wine, and even a mans body from the chest to the knees. Once, a Tiger shark helped solve a murder for the police. A man was found dead in a river missing his right arm. The police thought he was murdered and dumped into the river. Weeks went by and the case wasn?t solved yet until a fishermen discovered an arm in the stomach of a Tiger shark he caught in the same river. The arm matched the dead body and the case was solved. However, Tiger sharks mostly feed on fish, turtles, birds, and other sharks.

They are solitary animals except during mating. They are ovoviviparous and their young are born after a gestation period of nine months. They are born live in litters of 10-82 pups. The newborn sharks are 20-30 inches long and completely independent. Tiger sharks migrate seasonally up to 1550 miles. A Tiger shark?s life span is unknown but it is thought to be about 30 years.

Fish: The Tiger Shark. http://worldkids.net/critters/fish/shark1.html

Tiger Shark Research Program. http://www2.Hawaii.edu/~carlm /tigershark. html.

Wimsby, Warren J. The World Book Encyclopedia. 1986 ed.


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