Galeocerdo cuvier

Common Name

Tiger Shark

Year Described

PĂ©ron and Lesueur, 1822


Anteroposterior tooth rows: 9-12/8-11 on each side; 18-26/18-25 total
Vertebrae: 100-112 precaudal, 216-234 total

A very large shark with a large head tapering posteriorly to a thin caudal peduncle. Snout short and bluntly rounded. Eye small. Distance between nostrils 0.7-1.1 times in pre-oral distance. Nasal flaps broadly triangular and short. Upper labial furrows long; reaching to eye. Interdorsal ridge is present. Long preanal ridge absent. A low lateral keel is present on caudal peduncle. Gill slits moderate (2.9-3.4% TL). Teeth in upper jaw broad with low, oblique cusps, strong serrations, notched on one side, and with basal cusplets on the other side. Lower jaw teeth similar to upper. First dorsal fin high (6.4-9.1% TL) with a convex anterior margin, a strongly concave rear margin, a pointed tip, and inserted over free rear tip of pectoral fin. Second dorsal fin much smaller (1.9-3.8% TL) and inserted anterior to anal fin. Both dorsal fins with extended free posterior tips (second dorsal free tip less than twice height of second dorsal). Anal fin similar in size to second dorsal fin. Pelvic fin closer to anal fin than to dorsal fin. Pectoral fin rather large and falcate, with a pointed to rounded tip.


Dark gray, blue-gray, or brown above, white below. Numerous dark spots and bars on body become more obscure on head. Markings bold and contrasting in young but fade in large adults.


Mature adults common from 225-425cm TL. Newborns from 68-85cm. Maximum size to at least 550cm TL.


Mainly coastal but occurs offshore to depths of up to 350m. Found in many nearshore habitats like estuaries, lagoons, mangrove swamps, bays, sandy bottoms, and shallow reefs. Found near the surface, bottom, or in open waters.


Massachusetts to Uruguay, including Bermuda, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.


Castro, J.I. 2011. The Sharks of North America. Oxford University Press, 640 pp.

Compagno, L.J.V. 2002. Sharks. In: Carpenter, K.E. (Editor) FAO Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of The Western Central Atlantic. Volume 1: Introduction, mollusks, crustaceans, hagfishes, sharks, batoid fishes, and chimaeras. ASIH Special Publication No. 5. FAO, Rome.

Compagno, L., M. Dando, and S. Fowler. 2005. Sharks of the World. Princeton University Press, 480 pp.