Although some sharks will attack and kill humans without necessarily eating them, the tiger shark is especially fearsome because it is well-known as a man-eater, often devouring the remains of its victims.
The tiger shark frequents shallow waters where people swim and is circumglobal in tropical and temperate waters. One study has shown that the tiger shark can travel more than 30 miles within a 24-hour period, and that although tiger sharks do revisit the same coastal areas, the time elapsed between visits can vary from a few days to many months.
Dark bluish-gray to brownish-gray above and whitish below, the tiger shark is so called because of its prominent dark brown blotches and bars, or "tiger stripes and leopard spots". These are especially evident in juveniles and small adults but fade with age.
This fish has an extremely blunt snout that appears broadly rounded from below, and a mid-dorsal ridge is present. The tiger shark is also distinguished by its broad and coarsely serrated teeth, which have deep notches and are the same in both jaws. The first two of five gill slits are located above the pectoral fin, and there is a long, prominent keel on either side of the caudal peduncle, as well as a long upper lobe on the tail.
The tiger shark is an important species for anglers only because it is commonly in the 300- to 800-pound class when encountered and can grow much larger. The long-standing all-tackle record of 1,780 pounds was caught from a pier at Cherry Grove, South Carolina, in 1964. Tigers are famed for eating virtually anything, including metal objects, and are generally poor fighters.