The Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier, occurs in tropical oceans all over the world, and strays into temperate waters during the summer. No one is sure whether its popular name arises from its voracious habits and prominent, sickle-shaped teeth, or from the stripes and blotches displayed by smaller specimens. At any rate, tiger sharks are considered the most dangerous species in some areas, and are proved man-eaters around Australia.
Tiger sharks up to thirty feet in length have been reported, but the longest on fully authenticated record was an eighteen-foot specimen. When born they are about one and one-half feet long. The size of litter varies greatly; from ten to eighty-two young have been found in various females.
Most remarkable are the feeding habits of tiger sharks; practically everything edible – and much that is not – has been found in their stomachs. Their food ranges in size from small crabs to giant sea turtles and other large sharks. Spiny lobsters, horseshoe crabs, snails, octopuses, squid, fishes of all sorts, sea snakes, birds, and sea lions are all eaten by them. They capture sting rays which often leave their spines embedded in the shark’s jaws. All kinds of offal are eagerly swallowed, including the heads and hooves of cows and horses, and whole dogs, cats, and goats; even human corpses. Such indigestible things as old boots and clothes, tin cans, and sacks of coal have also been taken from their maws.
This abundant species is fished for its hide and also, to some extent, for its liver. As with numerous other sharks, its flesh is palatable and is used for food in certain localities.