Carcharias taurus Rafinesque, 1810
Sand tiger shark
Carcharias taurus
photo by Choromanski, J.M.

Family:  Odontaspididae (Sand tigers)
Max. size:  330 cm TL (male/unsexed); max.weight: 159 kg
Environment:  reef-associated; depth range 1 - 191 m, oceanodromous
Distribution:  Circumtropical: Except perhaps the eastern Pacific (Ref. 13568). Indo-West Pacific: Red Sea and off the coasts of South Africa to Japan, Korea and Australia (Ref. 13568). Present in Arafura Sea (Ref. 9819). Western Atlantic: Gulf of Maine to Argentina. Old record from Bermuda, south Brazil (Ref. 26938). Eastern Atlantic: Mediterranean to Cameroon. Northwest Atlantic: Canada (Ref. 5951).
Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): 0-0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 0-0; Anal spines: 0-0; Anal soft rays: 0-0. A shark with a short, pointed snout, small eyes, protruding spike-like teeth and small, equal-sized dorsal and anal fins; 1st dorsal fin closer to pelvic than to pectoral fins (Ref. 5578). Caudal fin with a pronounced subterminal notch and a short ventral lobe (Ref. 13575). Pale brown or grey, paler below, with dark spots that appear faded in adults; fins plain (Ref. 6586).
Biology:  A common littoral shark found inshore from the surf zone and in shallow bays to at least 191 m on the outer continental shelves (Ref. 13568). Often on or near the bottom but also occurs in midwater or at the surface (Ref. 247). Only shark known to gulp and store air in its stomach to maintain neutral buoyancy while swimming (Ref. 13568). Found singly or in small to large schools (Ref. 247). Feeds on bony fishes, small sharks, rays, squids, crabs, and lobsters (Ref. 5578). Ovoviviparous, embryos feeding on yolk sac and other ova produced by the mother as well as other siblings in the womb (uterine cannibalism) (Ref. 50449). Usually gives birth to 2 pups after a 9-12 months gestation period (Ref.58048). A migratory species in parts of its range, particularly in its northern and southern extremities where pronounced poleward migration occur in the summer and equatorial movements in autumn and winter (Ref. 247). Usually inoffensive and not aggressive when not provoked (Ref. 247) but has known to bite swimmers and be aggressive towards divers with speared fish (Ref. 6586). Utilized for fresh, frozen, smoked and dried for human consumption (Ref. 247); also for fishmeal, liver oil, fins, and hides for leather (Ref. 13568). Flesh highly appreciated in Japan (Ref. 36731).
IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable(A2ab+3d) (Ref. 115185)
Threat to humans:  traumatogenic
Country info:  Recorded from Lanuza Bay (Ref. 104756). Nominally recorded as Carcharias tricuspidatus (Ref. 13568). Also Ref. 43278.

Entered by: Carpenter, Kent E. - 15.06.92
Modified by: Casal, Christine Marie V. - 07.06.17
Checked by: Garilao, Cristina V. - 18.08.98

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