Home > Animals & Exhibits > Water's Edge > Sand Tiger Shark

Sand Tiger Shark

Sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus), also known as sand sharks, gray nurse sharks, and ragged tooth sharks, are lamniform sharks of the family Odontaspididae.

Size: They grow up to 13 ft in length. A sand tiger shark can reach up to 250 pounds.

Life Span: 25 years

Color: Brown in color with dark markings in the upper half

Continent: North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Range: The Eastern and Western coasts of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, the Western Pacific ocean, as well as the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean.

Habitat: The sand tiger shark is often found in sandy coastal waters, shallow bays, estuaries and rocky or tropical reefs. Although most often found in shallow waters they also swim down to depths of 200 meters.

Food: Diet consists mainly of large and small bony fish, small sharks, squid, and crustaceans.

Reproduction: Sand tiger sharks only develop two embryos, one in each uterus. The strongest pups eat other embryos and any other unfertilized eggs in a process called "intrauterine cannibalism" before being born. They have a gestation period of about 9 to 12 months. A female Sand Shark becomes sexually mature when she reaches 2 meters long.

Fun Fact: Sand tiger sharks are the only known shark to surface for gulps of air. They store the air in their stomachs which allows them to float motionless in the water as they hunt for prey.

Conservation: The sand tiger shark is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and is a candidate species for the U.S. Endangered Species list. Sand tigers are very susceptible to fishery exploitation because they aggregate in large numbers during the mating season at particular coastal spots.