We had a very exciting sighting a couple of weeks ago on marine – as you may have read – our sighting of a tiger shark, and in remarkable circumstances. This was the first GVI recorded tiger shark in our south coast study area and caused quite a stir amongst the team!
There are around 50 species of shark in the western Indian Ocean region from 13 different families – one of those families is named the ‘true shark’ or Carcharinidae family containing 20 species of powerful predatory shark. The tiger shark or Galeocerdo cuvier falls into this family and is distinguished by its pattern of darker spots and stripes on its grey dorsal surface; it has a large blunt head and mouth and a long slender tail with a pointed tip. The most unique feature of the tiger shark is its teeth (!) which are serrated. They reach up to 5.5m (18ft) and are quite robust, heavily built specimens.
The two individuals we spotted exhibited the distinctive patterning and were around 4m in length; they also had with them a young individual. Sharks are normally solitary, and tiger sharks feed on turtles seabirds and other more opportunistic items, but may have gathered here at the opportunity of this food source (see previous blog on the stranded humpback whale body).
Tiger sharks are listed as the most dangerous to humans seen in this area; but I for one hope we see them again.