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Sand tiger Shark
Odontaspis taurus
(Carcharhinus taurus)

If you have more questions about this species or any other species of shark, ask the Shark Wrangler!
He has handled live sharks of every species on this site except blues and makos.

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Sand tiger

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Sand tiger sharks are probably the most widely viewed species of shark.  Due to their rugged nature, they have done well in public aquariums around the world.  They are best known for their "snaggle-toothed" appearance.  Their jaws and shape are unmistakable.

Sand tigers have a body and design similar to nurse sharks.  Though their color tends to be lighter and grayish-brown rather than the rich brown of nurse sharks, they have similar features.  Like nurses, their pups have spots.  Their fins are not the stiff extended style like carcharhinid sharks.  Their fins like those of a nurse shark fold neatly at their sides.  The small dorsal fin is the only extended fin.  Another similarity between sand tigers and nurses is the ability of sand tigers to survive motionless for periods of time while still breathing.  This ability is due to their sluggish nature and physiology.

Sand tigers can grow to lengths of over eleven feet.  They will weigh from 500 to over 1000 lb.  When able to feed lavishly they will grow enormously.  Young sharks and those in poor hunting areas will thin and not gain weight.

Sand tigers are sluggish, slow moving sharks.  They will feed on anything they come across, despite their preferred delicacies.  They rely on their ability to impale their prey on their long teeth and hold it until it is dead.  They will readily attack other sharks, especially when hungry.  In the womb, researchers say, two embryos survive by eating the other eggs for sustenance.  Sand tigers seem to be one of the most devilish of all sharks, in spite of their cool demeanor.  Some aquarists are lulled by their calm non-aggressive patterns.  However, the experience of the author proves otherwise.

Sand tigers like hammerheads are social at times and are inclined to congregate.  They can form communal habitats, resting in the safety of numbers at one location and hunting in another.  They range several oceans and like the same types of habitat.  They prefer cold water, mostly.  And will spend their life cycle following cold water patterns.  They are found in the waters of the east coast from Maine to SC. 

This species has never been targeted and is rarely caught by commercial fishing operations.  Despite this fact, it was put on the protected species list and cannot be taken or collected.  Regardless, the sand tiger population is not endangered in the least.  It is alive and well.  Numbers will continue to increase.  This hearty species will survive man.  They are perfectly suited for aquarium life and transport to aquariums.


Live at Aquarium

Tail and Side of pup
shows spotted color of juveniles

Ventral full view

Live at Aquarium

Ventral Head


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from 10 foot shark

Jaws description

The teeth are unmistakable, long narrow and straight with a single cusp (or denticle) on both side.  They protrude from the rows forward sticking out of the anterior portion of the set.  The shape is long toward the anterior portion of the set.  This species mouth extends forward and is narrow in width.  This makes for an impressive display.