Sand Tiger Sharks swimming
Sand Tiger Shark teeth

Sand Tiger Shark

Carcharias taurus

About This Animal

SIZE: 10 feet in length - 250 pounds

RANGE: Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Argentina, the Atlantic coast of Europe to North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea

HABITAT: Coastal waters and open oceans

DIET: Fish, lobsters, crabs and squid

ON EXHIBIT:  The Secret Reef exhibit in Ocean Journey

Sand tiger sharks look very ferocious, with a row of jagged teeth that you can see even when their mouths are closed! However, these fish are not very aggressive toward people. They generally bother people only when people bother them first.

Sand tiger sharks have possibly the oddest method of reproduction in the shark family. This shark is ovoviviparous, meaning that its eggs hatch inside each of the mother's two uteri and are later born live. The largest sand tiger embryos in each uteri gain nourishment by eating their smaller siblings. This mode of survival, called intrauterine cannibalism, results in two large healthy pups that are about 3 feet in length when they are born. 

Sand tiger shark populations have declined by more than 20 percent in the last 10 years and they are listed as a vulnerable species in the Atlantic Ocean. The sand tiger, also known as the gray nurse shark or the spotted ragged tooth shark, poses little danger to humans.

The big, toothy sharks at the Tennessee Aquarium fascinate guests of all ages. In this video, you'll see what it's like to be SCUBA diving with sandbar and sand tiger sharks. Look closely and you'll notice the sharks closely eyeing the diver and camera. You'll also notice the way these sharks use their pectoral fins to steer.

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