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Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Western Atlantic from Canada and the Gulf of Maine to Argentina and in the Eastern Atlantic from the Mediterranean to Cameroon. In the Indo-West Pacific from the Red Sea and the South African coast east to Japan, Korea and Australia. Absent from the Eastern Pacific.
  • Found in shoreline habitats to depths of about 625 feet (190 m).  

Physical Characteristics

  • Brownish-gray with rust-colored spots on the back and white underneath.
  • Spots fade as the animal matures.
  • Displays a mouthful of sharp teeth that protrude in all directions, even when the mouth is closed. Despite its menacing appearance, it is a docile and non-aggressive species.
  • Narrow, flattened, cone-shaped snout and very small eyes.
  • Ranges in length from 6.5 to 10.5 feet (2.0-3.2 m) and may weigh 200 to 350 lbs. (91-159 kg).

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of bony fishes, smaller sharks, rays, squid, crabs and lobsters.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Lowest reproductive rate among sharks, giving birth every two years to one or two pups after a gestation period of 9 to 12 months.
  • This shark is ovoviviparous. The embryos initially are nourished by the yolk in their egg and later consume slower-developing embryos while still in their mother's uterus.
  • Sand tiger shark pups are three feet long at birth.

Conservation Status

  • “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.
  • Not listed under CITES.
  • Population likely declining at a rate of 30 percent or more every ten years.
  • Sand tiger sharks are a prohibited species for recreational and commercial fishermen in NOAA’s Highly Migratory Species Compliance Guide.
  • Current threats include accidental mortality due to by-catch.

Additional Information

  • Only shark species that swims to the surface and swallows air in order to regulate its buoyancy. This enables it to remain motionless at any depth while seeking prey.