Tiger sharks and sand tiger sharks share the word “tiger shark” and anyone can assume they are close relatives. However, it would be interesting for anyone to know that tiger sharks and sand tiger sharks are not actually that closely related. The sand tiger shark (Carcharias Taurus) belongs to the family of carcharids, while the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) belongs to the family of true sharks. Apart from that, there are many more differences between these species and we will explore some of them in this article along with their characteristics. let’s start.
Comparing Tiger Sharks vs Sand Tiger Sharks
|tiger shark||sand tiger shark|
|size||Length: 10-14 feet|
Weight: 850-1400 lbs
|Length: 6.6-10.5 feet|
Weight: 110-661 lbs
|appearance||Juveniles have tiger stripes, a blue/green and white/buff underbelly, sharp/serrated teeth, and a different tail.||Gray dorsally, dirty white ventrally, anal fin the same size as dorsal fin; pointed snout with razor-like teeth.|
|location and habitat||Location: Subtropical and tropical waters; east coast of North America to east coast of Brazil.|
Habitat: Shallow coastline habitats, harbors and estuaries.
|Location: Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.Warm seas excluding the eastern Pacific Ocean|
Habitat: Temperate and tropical waters; shallow water (area
|diet||Carnivorous; snakes, crustaceans, dugongs, molluscs, etc.||Carnivorous; bony fishes, lobsters, squid, crabs, rays, and other small sharks|
|Gestation and litter size||Gestation period: 13-16 months|
Litter size: 10-80 pups
|Cycle: 8-12 months|
Litter size: 1-2 pups
|life||27 years||13-35 years old|
Key Differences Between Tiger Sharks and Sand Tiger Sharks
Aside from the aforementioned differences in name and family, the key differences between tiger sharks and sand tiger sharks are their size, appearance, and reproductive process. We’ll go on to discuss these and other subtle differences.
Tiger Shark vs Sand Tiger Shark: Size
Although both tiger sharks and sand tiger sharks are large creatures, they are very different in size. Tiger sharks are about 10 to 14 feet long and weigh up to 850 pounds, while sand tiger sharks are about 6.6-10.5 feet long and weigh 110-661 pounds. These figures suggest that tiger sharks are taller than sand tiger sharks in both length and weight.
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Tiger Shark vs. Sand Tiger Shark: Appearances
As we’ll see soon, tiger sharks and sand tiger sharks also have certain differences in appearance.
Tiger sharks have a blue/green body with a white/yellow belly and sharp, heavily serrated teeth. They also have heterotailed tails, which means the spine extends north to the upper lobe of the tail, which makes it larger than the lower lobe. We should also mention that juvenile tiger sharks have tiger stripes that fade away as adults, which may be the origin of the “tiger” in their name.
Sand tiger sharks, on the other hand, have gray dorsal sides and dirty white underbelly. They’re also thick, with razor-like tusks that can be seen even when closed, making them look more dangerous than they really are. A notable physical feature of sand tiger sharks is the uniform size of the anal and dorsal fins, which is not common.
Tiger Shark vs Sand Tiger Shark: Location and Habitat
Tiger sharks prefer subtropical and tropical waters and can be found off the coasts of many regions including North America, Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico, Latin America, China, India, Africa and Japan. Their preferred habitats include seagrass areas and shallow shorelines (where they spend 36 percent of their time). However, more females than males were observed in shallow water. They are also frequent in harbors and estuaries.
Sand tiger sharks live in temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. They are also found in all warm oceans except the eastern Pacific. This includes the Western Atlantic, Eastern Atlantic, Western Pacific and South African coasts. Preferred habitats include surf breaks, coral/rocky reefs, and shallow bays, although they have been found in waters as deep as 626 feet.
Tiger Shark vs. Sand Tiger Shark: Diet
If you assumed that both tiger and sand tiger sharks were carnivorous, we’re happy to tell you that your assumption is correct. Both species are primarily carnivorous, although there are differences in their actual diets. The tiger shark’s diet includes molluscs, birds, turtles, dugongs, snakes and crustaceans. Sand tiger sharks, on the other hand, love squid, bony fish, stingrays, lobsters, and crabs.
Tiger Sharks vs. Sand Tiger Sharks: Gestation Period and Litter Size
There are some differences in the reproductive process of tiger sharks and sand tiger sharks.
For one thing, tiger sharks are polygamous, and they often have more than one mate in a single breeding season. Most individuals mate every three years, and the females are oviparous, meaning the eggs hatch and are nourished inside the body. Gestation is between 13-16 months and litter size is between 10-80 pups, many of which are not yet adults.
Also, sand tiger sharks are oviparous, which means they do have something in common with their larger counterparts. They also have a polygamous mating system which is made worse by a 2:1 male to female ratio. However, their litter size is no more than 2 pups, with a gestation period of about 8-12 months, which is much less than what is available to tiger sharks.
Tiger Shark vs Sand Tiger Shark: Lifespan
There are also some differences in lifespan between tiger sharks and sand tiger sharks. Tiger sharks are estimated to have an average lifespan of 27 years in the wild, but some tiger sharks can live beyond 50 years. Captive tiger sharks don’t live as long. Their typical lifespan is 17 years.
However, sand tiger sharks can live 13-16 years in captivity and up to 35 years in the wild.
Tiger Sharks vs. Sand Tiger Sharks: Conservation Status
Both the tiger shark and the sand tiger shark are on the IUCN Red List. The tiger shark is considered “Near Threatened,” while the Sand Tiger Shark is far more dangerous, which is why it’s listed as “Critically Endangered.”
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