Sand Tiger Shark

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Carcharias taurus - Rafinesque, 1810
Sand Tiger Shark

Sand Tiger Shark at the Minnesota Zoo. GNU

[edit] Overview

Known as the Ragged Tooth Shark in South Africa, this is a species whose menacing looks do not always signal its true behaviors. In some regions it is considered mild-mannered or even "harmless," while in other areas it has reputation for attacking humans. Reliable records list 29 unprovoked attacks and two human deaths attributed to this species over many years. (ISAF.)

According to the International Shark Attack File, maintained at the Florida Museum of Natural History, "Almost any large shark, roughly two meters or longer in total length, is a potential threat to humans. Three species, however, have been repetitively implicated as the primary attackers of man: the White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias), Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) and Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas)."

Considering its habit of prowling shallow waters and beach areas as it hunts, the number of attacks attributed to the Sand Tiger Shark is considered low.

It bears a snaggletoothed mouthful of sharp teeth (up to 94 teeth in all) designed for catching live prey. The Sand Tiger is large, imposing animal, usually slow moving and growing to about 10.5 ft (3.2 m); the heaviest recorded weight is 350 lbs. (159 kg).

Sand Tiger Shark in Australian waters. Image: Richard Ling/Creative Commons.

It is listed as "Vulnerable" by the World Conservation Union, owing to overfishing and a very low reproductive rate. It is protected in US and Australian waters.

Family: Odontaspididae

Other common name(s):

  • Gray Nurse Shark
  • Ragged Tooth Shark
  • Ground Shark
  • Slender-tooth Shark
  • Spotted Sand Tiger

Native range:

Maximum length: 320 cm (126 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 1000000 L (264,172 gal)

Water: Marine 18 °C (291 K, 64 °F) - 30 °C (303 K, 86 °F)

General swimming level: Often near bottom, but all levels.

[edit] Feeding

Hunts other sharks and rays, bony fishes, squid, crustaceans. Sand Tigers will hunt in groups or packs, sometimes cooperatively herding prey fishes.

[edit] Aquarium Compatibility

Not a species for amateur aquarists. It is a popular display animal in public aquaria, but even professional keepers have had problems with the predatory behavior of this species. See: Sharks Gone Wild at Dubai Aquarium.

[edit] Breeding/Propagation

This species has the lowest rate of reproduction of all sharks. Ovoviviparous. Usually only two pups are born at a time, as they have eaten all their sibling embryos in the female's paired uteri.

[edit] Notes

Found in most of the world's oceans, but not in the Eastern Pacific.

SEE ALSO: International Shark Attack File (ISAF)

Facts about Sand Tiger SharkRDF feed
Common name Sand Tiger Shark  +, Gray Nurse Shark  +, Ragged Tooth Shark  +, Ground Shark  +, Slender-tooth Shark  +, and Spotted Sand Tiger  +
Family Odontaspididae  +
Genus Carcharias  +
Maximum length 126 in  +
Minimum aquarium size 264,172 gal  +
Native range Western Atlantic  +, Eastern Atlantic  +, Indo-Pacific  +, and Australia  +
Specific name taurus  +
Swimming level Often near bottom, but all levels.  +
Water max temp 303 K (30 °C, 86 °F)  +
Water min temp 291 K (18 °C, 64 °F)  +
Water type Marine  +