December 12, 2008
Prof. Eric Stern
The Wastebasket of The Sea
The Tiger shark, also known as the “wastebasket of the sea”(National Geographic), is the fourth largest predatory shark in the ocean, measuring between twenty and twenty five feet long and can weigh more than 2000 pounds. They have dark, vertical stripes on their bodies which is the reason they are named tiger sharks. According to National Geographic, these stripes fade lighter as the shark grows older, and eventually disappears with age. The head of the tiger shark is somewhat wedge-shaped which greatly helps the shark to turn quickly from one side to the other. Like other sharks, they have small pits on the side of their upper bodies which hold electrical sensors that are called the ampullae of lorenzini. This enables them to easily detect small or minute muscle movements of other sea creatures. Being able to detect such small movements allows these shark to easily hunt at night in the darkness.
According to Encyclopedia of Life, the tiger shark has a thin reflective layer in their eye, behind the retina called the tapetum lucidum which allows light-sensing cells a second chance to capture photons of viable light which greatly enhances vision in low light conditions. This shark also has long fins and really long upper tail. The extremely long fins act as wings which provides a lift for the sharks body as it maneuvers through water. The long tail provides a great increase in speed and can be extremely helpful when hunting. This shark usually swims gracefully, using very little movements.
The teeth of the tiger shark are extremely strong and are specialized to easily chew through flesh, bone, and other substances that can be hard to get through. According to studies done by the Tiger Shark Research Program, these sharks have been reported to have eaten substances such as the shells of sea turtles. Their teeth have dissimilar shapes which creates jagged edges to easily tear through these tough substances. Like most other sharks, when a tiger shark looses it’s teeth, they are continuously replayed by the rows of replacements set within the jaw.
These sharks are found in many of the tropical and moderate sections of the world’s oceans, especially around the islands in the central Pacific.
The tiger shark is a carnivore and feasts on other smaller sharks, birds, fish, seals, squid, turtles, and dolphins. They are frequently referred to as “the waste basket of the sea” because they consume absolutely anything, even man-made objects dumped in the sea, such as license plates and pieces of tires. The tiger shark usually only hunts for it’s prey at night, which makes them introverted hunters. They are infamous for attacking swimmers, divers, and surfers, mainly in Hawaii. According to The Tiger Shark Research Program, tiger sharks will repeatedly attack humans, often returning to the same beach at the same time of year. They are second only to the notorious great white shark in number of reported and recorded attacks on humans, and known to be one of the most dangerous sharks to humans. According to The Tiger Shark Research Program, it can be inferred that the reason for the high number of attacks is due to its natural aggressive behavior and the frequent human contact because of it constantly inhabits Hawaiian beaches, which are often populated waters.
The tiger shark mates a mere once every three years and breed by internal fertilization. Their eggs hatch internally within the adult shark and the young are born after they have become fully developed within the parent. To fertilize a female shark, the male inserts one of his claspers into the genital opening, called the cloaca. This acts as a guide as a direct guide for the males sperm. To keep the female still throughout this process, the male grasps the female with it’s teeth which often causes severe discomfort. If the mating is done in the northern...