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The Tiger Shark
The tiger shark belongs to the family of Grey (Carcharhinidae) sharks. It has striped coloration and is extremely dangerous.
The tiger shark is a quite dangerous marine predator, more commonly known as sea tiger. This shark is relatively large and is quite a strong aggressor. The Tiger Shark is listed in the "Man eating sharks" red list.
The remains of the most ancient tiger sharks are about five hundred million years old - so they belong to the early Eocene. Sea Tigers have very unique body properties and are easily adapted to live in the oceans.
Tiger shark got its grandiose name because of the young sharks that have dark stripes on the back, which look just like the tiger coloration. With age, these stripes are getting erased, and the shark becomes dark grey.
Habitat of the tiger shark is sub-tropical and tropical heat zone. It was noted that predators love to be in coastal areas. However, this fact does not rule out a meeting with a tiger shark in the sea. Most commonly tiger shark can be found near the Oceania islands, as well as along the coast of New Zealand, Africa, North and South America, South and East Asia and even Australia. Less often sharks inhabit coastal Indochina and India, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. In the most extreme case, the Tiger Shark comes up to the Sea of ??Japan, however, such cases are extremely rare.
The main danger of the tiger shark is in the fact that this marine predator loves to come to the beaches and ports, canals, bays and inlets. It is most likely to meet a man eater in these places.
If we consider the tiger sharks vertical habitat, it may be noted that this type of predators do not like to dive to a depth of more than three hundred meters. There were reported just a few cases when the Sea Tiger sank to a depth of about one kilometer.
At first sight the tiger shark is a quite slow and even a little lazy fish. However, do not believe your very first impression. Once predator noticed a prey, it can instantly attack and then the prey chances of saving its life are getting close to zero.
Tiger sharks prefer to hunt at night. Going for their prey during the day happens rarely- mostly in Hawaii. Usually sharks lurk in the deeper waters and do not show themselves during the day. Hunting itself is quite an individual process for the predator - tiger sharks never attack victim with a bunch, preferring to get food singly.
Tiger shark's diet includes other small sharks, whales, shellfish, turtles, snakes, small fish, birds, squid and a lot of other creatures. In fact, there is virtually no living organism tiger shark would refuse. This fact played a very important role in the predators struggle for survival among other species. In those moments, when the main tiger shark's food disappeared from the surrounding environment, it could easily switch to any other available food and survive.
Tiger shark's stomach - is a real storehouse of fascinating and incomprehensible objects which mysteriously appeared inside a huge sea fish: cats and pigs, tires and license plates, household items and crocodile heads, clothes and driving licenses, explosives and constructions resembling usual chicken coops. For example, not so long ago in Australia, a shark with a whole unharmed horse head in the stomach was caught and killed.
You can make only one conclusion while watching all the things that have been pulled out from the shark's stomach: the Sea Tiger does not like to pay attention to the edibility of its prey. That happens due to the fact that Tiger Sharks have a rather remarkable feature: they are not only able to "spit out" all the inedible food, but even to rinse its stomach in the water. In order to do this trick, the sharks evert the stomach through the mouth. It's amazing how sharp teeth never touch the walls of the stomach and the shark stays unhurt.
Tiger Shark would never miss a carrion and would always eat it. Most commonly - dead whale carcass or any dead pet thrown into the sea by a man.
Probably that's why tiger sharks are called "marine scavengers" - because they are able to pick up and swallow any inedible items from the seabed!
In ordinary life, sharks prefer to eat living creatures of course. Sea Tigers are pretty huge, they have a wide mouth and very sharp teeth. They are able to eat all the living organisms that have dared to swim in their area. It is surprising, but even fearless dolphins, which always choose to travel in pack, prefer to stay away from such a formidable sea predator.
Would also like to note that tiger shark has a fairly typical and usual shark appearance: body shape, resembling a torpedo, very sleek large head and a blunt snout. Along the upper lip on the shark's face there are furrows: valves that help to "digest" the air and water. On the caudal peduncle there is a tail fin: the upper lobe of which is much greater than the lower.
Tiger shark coloration is quite interesting. Most adults have a grey color, from the darkest shade to light yellow and light green. Young tiger shark has some clear stripes and spots on it that resemble tiger coloration. This is very helpful for sharks to camouflage in the deep sea and to make a surprise attack on the victim. Year by year these stripes and spots are disappearing, and the shark is getting darker and inconspicuous.
Tiger shark skin is very strong and sturdy. It is covered all around with solid scale, which can easily damage the thin and delicate skin of the man. Tiger shark is very nimble. It has the following feature due to the fact that it has a few fins on it: the most massive and short - on the back, then a little powerful fin acting as a "booster", two fins on its chest, one anal fin and one tail fin. Something similar to eyelids is located on the shark eyes. Tiger Shark closes its eyes during the prey attack. This is necessary to protect its eyes from the resisting prey.
If we would compare the mouth of a tiger shark to the mouths of other members of the family, it can be observed that the tiger shark one is big enough. The teeth are clip shaped and have very sharp notches on each side: it helps shark to seize its prey with a death grip and to immediately tear it into small pieces.
There are a lot of small holes on the tiger shark body. There are electroreceptors in them. They help to detect electrical discharges, which are produced by any living organism. That is very helpful for night hunting, because during the dark time of the day shark's vision cannot help her in food search.
Tiger sharks are listed as a "man-eater" also due to the fact that adults can achieve just incredible size: more than 26 feet in length! According to facts, the largest tiger shark caught by a man, was caught in 1957 and it was 7.5 meters (25 feet) in length and weighed almost a ton! It was a female shark. It is proven that male sharks are mostly smaller and are about 5 meters (16 feet). As for today, the average size of a tiger shark is no more than 3-3.5 meters (10-11 feet).
Tiger sharks live an average of about twelve years. They become ready for fertilization when the lengths of their bodies reach 2.5 meters (8 feet).
Habitat of the tiger shark
Small sharks are getting born through ovoviviparity. In order to get gametes into the shark cloaca, the male shark is holding the female shark fins with teeth. In fact, such fertilization is very painful and can even lead to death of the shark. The female gives birth no more than once in three years.
All fertilized eggs stay in the shark body for about sixteen months. After that the real shark birth takes place and from ten to eighty sharks are getting born. The average offspring - forty small sharks. Each baby has a low weight and their length is about 1 meter (3 feet). Small sharks grow slowly and relentlessly fight for survival. The fact is that the shark's mother leaves little babies right after birth and go back to its usual life. Small sharks should learn to hunt and protect by themselves. It happens often that these small animals become eaten by their more mature congeners.
Catching a Tiger Shark is quite an important and responsible task in many countries. Sharkskin, fins, meat and some of the internal organs are most valued. People often hunt tiger sharks for sport.
As of today, tiger shark population shrank dramatically. However, while there are enough of them in the depths of the sea - the tiger shark is not listed in the Red Book, like a great White Shark. As it was mentioned earlier, the small Tiger Sharks grow slowly, but the number of sharks is not reduced due to the fact that a lot of sharks are getting born at one time.
The tiger shark is extremely dangerous to humans. It is on a par with such man-eaters like the usual Grey or Bull Shark. Attacks on humans are most common in Hawaii. For example, each year about three or four attacks are registered. In fact, the percentage is quite low, but don't forget that each attack - is an imminent injury, disability or even a death of surfer, diver or a simple bather.
It is worth noting the fact that the meeting with a tiger shark does not necessarily mean the death of a person. In most cases, people lose limbs, that, however, is not the most pleasant surprise in the sea. In subtropical waters people often catch sharks that have human limbs in their stomachs. Shark becomes more aggressive in the tropical waters and will never let its prey to go alive.
The fact that there are so many human body parts found in the shark's stomachs can be explained by the circumstance that tiger sharks are picking up the carrion from the sea bottom. However, that does not exclude the fact that all human parts appeared there after the real meetings between sharks and men.
As of today there are a lot of documented attacks of tiger sharks on humans. We would like to tell you about only a few of them:
- 1937. An adult shark caught near the New South Wales shore, which stomach is full of human bodies remains. This shark attacked two young men who were peacefully swimming on the beach. Fatal case.
- 1952. Tiger Shark attacked a young man while he was engaged in underwater hunting near a small island not far from Puerto Rico. Fatal case.
- 1949. Tiger Shark attacked a peacefully bathing woman and tore off her hand near the coast Western Australia coast. Just a few days later a tiger shark was caught there. During the autopsy there was found a woman's hand with a wedding ring in the shark's stomach. The ring was returned to the owner.
Quite a famous researcher Adrian Conan Doyle once told about the amazing case: a Tiger Shark was caught and killed in Zanzibar. A human skull and a bag with a huge sum of money were found in the stomach of that shark.
It is often difficult to identify the personality of the victim by the people remains found in the shark stomach. Only sometimes you can find a piece suit, fingers, denture or jewelry in the stomach. Professionals can find out the name of the shark victim through such discoveries. Or even how he died, sometimes. However, in practice, it is often even impossible to figure out if the man was already dead when he got into the shark's stomach or if he was fighting for his life.
Several years ago a tiger shark with an almost new shoe in the stomach has been caught and killed in Florida. Specialists immediately reviewed all the data on missing people and found out that one fisherman went to sea and never returned. He bought a new pair shoes a couple of days before. Thus the dead man was identified, but the facts of his death still remain unknown. It is not excluded that the man drowned in the sea long before he was attacked by a shark.
There is a myth that the shark turns belly up when attacking the victim. In reality it does not. If you will turn over the shark during the attack, it would become completely paralyzed and absolutely unable to do anything. This feature of her body is successfully used by modern scientists when they need to install the device or a sensor on shark's belly, which would be showing the movement of the tiger shark.
It is worth mentioning the surprising fact that in many countries the tiger shark is a sacred animal that people love and revere.