What do Tiger Shark Looks Like

The world’s oceans are home to over 500 species of shark, making identification difficult even for experts. There are, however, some shark types that possess distinctive physical characteristics that make their identification easier even for novices. One such species of shark is known as the tiger shark. The name of the shark suggests that it resembles a tiger, but is that really the case? Well, here we are with the particulars of what do tiger shark looks like.

Sharks are an integral part of the marine ecosystem, and it is due to their predatory nature that we have a population balance of marine life. Not only this, but sharks play a crucial role when it comes to ecotourism.

No matter what your age is, it is always a fascinating and once-in-a-lifetime experience to see or swim with sharks. However, due to hundreds of types of marine animals present in the water, it makes it somewhat difficult to recognize sharks, and it becomes even more difficult when you have over 500 types of sharks spread throughout the ocean world.   

With that said, tiger sharks have some unique features, and one of them is their appearance. This makes it pretty easy to be able to distinguish a tiger shark even from a great distance. Surely, you need to have good eyesight, though.

Continuing with that, let’s get to know a bit about tiger sharks and how do they look like.

How does a tiger shark look?

The Tiger shark is a large, aggressive predator that holds the record for the second most number of attacks on humans as per the Florida Museum International Shark Attack File. Incite the tiger shark, and it can tear you apart easily. Moreover, tiger sharks hunt solitary and mostly at night, so it will be hard for you to detect their presence.

This implies how crucial it is to be able to identify the tiger shark, or else you will put yourself in great danger.

Tiger sharks are named after the dark, vertical stripes they usually display as juveniles. However, these stripes fade almost completely as they mature. A gray body is topped with dark gray vertical bars or spots, and its underside is pale or white.

Combined with this information, the size of the shark also helps in identification. Tiger sharks belong to a category of a large size species, with the ability to reach a maximum length of 18 feet and weighing around 2,000 pounds.

The distinctive color pattern of the tiger shark, combined with its large size, will make it easy for you to identify the species over a long distance.

If you are facing a hard time differentiating between sharks and other marine creatures, do read how to identify sharks.

Having said that, before you step into the water, it is important that you know a bit more about the shark species other than their appearance and size only. So, let’s get to know a little bit more about tiger sharks.

Tiger shark’s distribution and habitat

Almost all temperate and tropical waters in the world are home to tiger sharks, except for those of the Mediterranean Sea. In shallower waters, it enters channels to pursue prey, but most of its time is spent in deep waters lining reefs.


As apex predators, tiger sharks have an unusual appetite; they have a reputation for eating pretty much anything. Generally, they eat most marine life, sea birds, sea turtles, sea snakes, scavenged dead animals, and occasionally terrestrial animals and garbage spotted at the shore. Additionally, they consume other sharks, rays, dolphins, injured whales, and even other tiger sharks. Despite being generalist predators, tiger sharks may specialize in certain highly available prey in some areas. For instance, in Hawaii, tiger sharks are known to regularly eat green turtles.

Regardless of its large size and slow speed, its ability to ambush its prey with short bursts of speed makes it an excellent ambush predator. Their sharp, well-serrated teeth and powerful jaws make it possible for them to prey on large species as well.

Relationship with humans

The record shows no good behavior; as mentioned above, it is responsible for the most number of attacks after the great white. With this, it makes its name on the list of most dangerous shark species. There is a high likelihood of a human encounter with a tiger shark due to the fact that they frequently come to coastal areas in search of prey. So be careful of that.


In the face of aggressive behavior, tiger sharks are killed in large numbers, and not only this, but they are also targeted for their fins, meat, liver, and skin. It is expected that several populations may decline further due to increased demand for fins in areas where they have been heavily fished.

With regards to the tiger sharks, the IUCN has declared the species as near threatened.


The tiger shark owes its name to its black spots and vertical bars running down its body that make it easy to identify. A pale, stark white underbelly appears with dark spots and stripes on the dorsal surface. The spots and stripes are more prominent in young sharks and fade with maturity.

As astonishing as they look, tiger sharks are considered dangerous to humans, and they will attack with force when confronted. However, when you know what do tiger shark looks like, you can recognize them from a distance and can take safety measures.

About the author

Yumna Ahmad

An experienced content writer, photographer, and avid reader amazed by the sea world and its creatures. I am lettin people become fascinated with the ocean planet through my writings.