The tiger shark is often found near the coast, mainly in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. Its behavior is predominantly nomadic, but it is driven by warmer currents and stays closer to the equator during the colder months.
It tends to stay in deep waters that line coral reefs, but it can also move into canals to chase prey in shallower water. Tiger sharks can be seen in the Gulf of Mexico, North American beaches, and parts of South America. It is also commonly observed in the Caribbean Sea.
Other locations where tiger sharks are seen include Africa, China, India, Australia, and Indonesia. The tiger shark was initially thought to be a coastal animal, but more recent research has brought to light a different conclusion; in fact the tiger shark turned out to be a sort of great nomad or migrant and not a habitual predator.
This species has a considerable economic importance, since an oil is extracted from its liver which, among the various uses, is used in human therapy due to its qualities similar to those of cod liver oil. Furthermore, the leather, properly tanned, provides an excellent leather.
Its meats are edible and the fins are considered a delicacy by the coastal populations of the Indian Ocean and the southwestern area of the Pacific Ocean.
Tiger shark and its 'slow' bite
While the tiger shark is considered to be one of the most dangerous sharks to humans, its bite rate is slow.
It ranks second on the list of recorded bites on humans, behind only the white shark. Typically, three to four shark bites per year occur in Hawaii, but they are rarely fatal. A notable survivor of such an attack is surf champion Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm at the age of 13 to a tiger shark in 2003.
This bite rate is very low considering that thousands of people swim, surf and dive in Hawaiian waters every day. Human interactions with tiger sharks in Hawaiian waters have been shown to increase between September and November, when female tiger sharks are believed to migrate to the islands to give birth.
Although sharks rarely bite humans, the tiger shark is said to be responsible for a large share of fatal shark bite accidents and is considered to be one of the most dangerous shark species. They often visit shallow reefs, harbors, and canals, creating the potential for encountering humans. The tiger shark also lives in river mouths and other runoff-rich waters.