Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier (Péron & Lesueur 1822)

A Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier, in the Bahamas. Source: Kevin Bryant / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


A large, aggressive shark that feeds indiscriminately on almost anything, including a variety of prey, carrion and human rubbish. Tiger sharks frequently enter shallow waters, especially at night, and are considered extremely dangerous to humans.

Identifying features: Upper surfaces greyish with dark bars and reticulations, becoming faint in adults over 3 m; underside pale

  • Head broad, snout very short and blunt, nostrils obvious
  • Caudal peduncle with lateral keels
  • Mouth large, jaws with large serrated cockscomb-shaped teeth
  • First dorsal fin originating over or slightly behind pectoral-fin origin
  • Ridge present along the back between the dorsal fins (interdorsal ridge).
  • Dive Magazine video of Tiger Sharks

    Video of a juvenile Tiger Shark being fed in the Cairns Marine facility.

    Cite this page as:
    Bray, D.J. 2019, Galeocerdo cuvier in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 Apr 2019, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1959

    Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier (Péron & Lesueur 1822)

    More Info


    Found worldwide in all tropical and warm temperate seas - straying into warm-temperate areas during warmer months.

    Tiger sharks are usually associated with warmer waters, although they venture into southern waters between December and April. The species is rare in Bass Strait and the Great Australian Bight, and is very uncommon in Tasmania, having only been recorded in the north of the State. 

    Tiger sharks inhabit inshore and offshore waters to the outer continental shelf, and have been recorded to depths of about 150 m.

    Tagging studies have shown that Tiger Sharks can dive to Tiger sharks can dive up to 920 m and migrate long distances from Sydney to New Caledonia.


    Vertebrae (precaudal) 102-109; (total) 222-226. 

    Body streamlined; caudal peduncle with lateral keels; upper and lower precaudal pits present. Head slightly flattened above; snout very short, bluntly rounded (length to mouth 3-5% TL); nostril not connected to mouth by groove; eyes oval; spiracles present as small, narrow slits; upper labial furrows long, equal to length of snout in front of mouth; mouth large (80-83% head width); teeth cockscomb-shaped in both jaws, each with single cusp and large serrations, on both edges; five gill slits, last above pectoral fin. Interdorsal ridge present.

    Two dorsal fins, second much smaller than first, origin of first dorsal over, or slightly posterior to axil of pectoral fin; anal fin of similar size to second dorsal, origin just posterior to that of second dorsal; caudal fin heterocercal, upper lobe long with a thin, tapering tip, sub-terminal notch present, lower lobe well developed.  Pectoral fin of moderate size, nearly pointed, with a concave hind margin.


    Reaches 5.5 m.


    Upper surfaces grey with dark bars and reticulations in juveniles, becoming faint in adults over 3 m; underside pale.


    Apex predators in tropical seas, and are indiscrimate omnivores and scavengers. Randall (1992) concluded that tiger sharks  probably have the most diverse diet of any shark species. Prey includes bony fishes, sharks, rays, turtles, sea birds, seals, dolphins, sea snakes, cephalopods, crabs, lobsters, gastropods and jellyfish. 

    They also consume carrion and readily take baited hooks. Tiger sharks also consume rubbish of human origin, including plastics, metal, sacks, kitchen scraps and almost any other item discarded in the sea.

    Juveniles generally feed on fishes, crustaceans and other invertebrates. As they grow, the diet expands to include more diverse prey with age such as turtles, sharks and rays, and marine mammals.


    The Tiger Shark is the only species in the family Carcharhinidae that is ovoviviparous. Males mature at about 3 m and females at 3.3 m. Females give birth during summer to large litters of 10-80 pups, born at 50–75 cm after 12 month gestation period.


    Taken both as a target species and as bycatch in many fisheries worldwide. Although not used commercially in Australia, Tier Sharks are regularly hooked by sports fishers off eastern Australia.

    Species Citation

    Squalus cuvier Péron, F. & Lesueur, C.A. in Lesueur, C.A. 1822. Description of a Squalus, of a very large size, which was taken on the coast of New Jersey. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2(2): 343-352 1 pl [351].

    Type locality: north-west Australia (as north-west coast of New Holland).


    Bray, D.J. 2019


    Australian Faunal Directory

    Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier (Péron & Lesueur 1822)


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  • Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37018022

    Behaviour:Highly migratory

    Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

    Danger:Extremely dangerous to humans

    Depth:0-150 m (to 920 m)

    Max Size:550 cm TL

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    CAAB distribution map