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the web of life in southern Africa

Galeocerdo cuvier (Tiger shark)

(Peron & Lesueur, in Lesueur, 1822)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates) > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) >.Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Galeomorphii > Carcharhiniformes > Carcharhinidae

Galeocerdo cuvier (Tiger shark) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


A huge striped shark with a broad, bluntly rounded snout, long upper labial furrows, a big mouth with large, saw-edged, cockscomb-shaped teeth, spiracles, and low caudal keels. Colour grey above with vertical black to dark grey bars and spots, bold in young but fading in adults; white below.


To 5.5 m and possibly 7.4 m TL.


East coast, Cape St. Francis to Mozambique; circumtropical.



Coastal and well offshore, surfline to 140 m depth.


Common off Natal, a summer visitor to the eastern Cape. Bears 10 to 82 young. The most opportunistic feeder amongst sharks, eats other sharks, rays, bony fish, birds, pinnipeds, small cetaceans, turtles, sea snakes, lobsters, crabs, cuttlefish, and mammalian carrion, and swallows a wide variety of inedible garbage.

Human Impact

Potentially dangerous; a few attacks on people off Natal are attributable to this species. Caught by sports anglers and the Natal shark nets.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale