Are Tiger Sharks Dangerous Or Aggressive?

What do tiger sharks eat - feeding a tiger shark
© Tomas Kotouc/

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley

Updated: September 22, 2023

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The tiger shark is a reputable fish that’s well known around the world. It is the only member of the Galeocerdo genus and the world’s fourth biggest shark species. This fantastic giant’s name is derived from the tiger-like stripes that appear on its side as a juvenile. It is also known by many other names, which include leopard shark, maneater shark, and spotted shark. This shark is feared as many believe it to be very aggressive and dangerous to humans. However, is it true? Let’s find out!

What Kind of Predators are Tiger Sharks?

tiger shark

Tiger sharks possess very sharp teeth that help them break through the shells of marine animals like turtles.


The tiger shark is a mega predator, and its features and characteristics confirm these facts. These sharks are carnivores, meaning they feed on only meat. They possess very sharp teeth that are short, broad, and strong. Their teeth have clear serrations that make it easy for them to break through the tough shell of marine animals like turtles.

Also, they are known to prey on fish, squid, crabs, seabirds, dolphins, sea turtles, rays, crustaceans, and even other sharks. They have a reputation for being very vicious hunters. Their attacks are usually ruthless as the fish doesn’t spare its prey most of the time.

Since sharks are always on the move and burning up energy, they have to feed. Due to this insatiable feeding habit, the tiger shark is always eating. According to scientists, different objects have been retrieved from the stomachs of tiger sharks, some of which are license plates, boots, lumps of coal, cans of paint, packs of cigarettes, Senegalese drums, and fur coats. Little wonder they are called the garbage can of the ocean.

Seeing that the tiger shark has to eat so much, it would regularly look out for prey in the oceans.

Are Tiger Sharks Aggressive?

Tiger Shark

One of the three most aggressive shark species is the tiger shark.

© Craft

Tiger sharks are said to be among the most aggressive shark species. It is ranked among the three most aggressive sharks in the world, with the great white shark and the bull shark completing the list. These sharks are very aggressive when hunting prey in the water. They are known to take down other sharks, turtles, birds, rays, tarpon, smaller fish, octopuses, squid, and crustaceans. The aggression doesn’t end there but also extends to humans. They are known to attack humans without any provocation, and this is one of the reasons they are considered to be very deadly.

Are Tiger Sharks Dangerous To Humans?

Tiger Shark

The number of human attacks linked to the tiger shark is about 138, including 36 fatal cases.

©Michael Rothschild/

Tiger sharks are known to be dangerous to humans. The fact that they can attack a person without the need for any provocation is enough reason to agree that the species is dangerous to humans. The number of human attacks linked to the tiger shark is about 138, including 36 fatal cases. For most other shark species, they stop the attack immediately they discover it is a human being involved. An example is the great hammerhead that moves on immediately it knows it is dealing with a human and not its regular prey.

On the other hand, the tiger shark is not known to stop even when it discovers it is attacking a human being. Once it has taken a bite, there’s a high chance that it will not stop until there is nothing left. This behavior is all thanks to its willingness to eat anything. Another scary thing about this vicious hunter is that its jaws have elastic muscles, making it possible for them to swallow large prey. In one instance, scientists discovered the skeleton of a 6-foot dolphin in the belly of a tiger shark.

Is The Tiger Shark or The Great White More Dangerous?

Great white sharks are the ocean's apex predators.

Great white sharks are the ocean’s apex predators.


Tiger sharks are renowned for their aggressiveness, and it’s accurate to say they rank second only to great whites in the frequency of shark attacks on humans.

Additionally, it can be difficult to compare the threat posed by tigers and great white sharks since both can be hazardous to humans. Nevertheless, when it comes to unprovoked attacks on humans, great white sharks have a higher track record than tiger sharks, earning them a more notorious reputation as man-eaters.

Alternatively, while tiger sharks and great whites are indeed highly dangerous, many experts consider bull sharks to be the most perilous sharks worldwide.

Throughout history, great white, tiger sharks, and bull sharks are the three species most prone to human attacks.

Are Tiger Sharks Attracted To Humans?

Due to the frequency of the attacks, it is easy to believe that tiger sharks are attracted to humans especially. Some believe they are attracted to human blood, but there is no scientific proof that sharks are attracted to humans because of their blood. An experiment using cow blood and fish blood showed that sharks are more attracted to fish blood as this is the primary blood taste and smell they are used to.

Although sharks have a strong sense of smell, it doesn’t mean they can sniff things out from miles away. They would move towards it if they were close to a strong smell. However, sound is the most likely factor that makes sharks move toward humans. When they hear sounds, they immediately move in that direction. So, human activity in the water is what gets sharks, like the tiger shark, curious most times.

How To Avoid Tiger Shark Attacks?

Since it’s clear that tiger sharks are deadly to humans, it would be a wise option to avoid having an encounter with these beasts who need no motivation to attack you. However, there are times when confrontations are inevitable. Here are a few things to keep yourself safe if you encounter a tiger shark.

  • Try your best to be in a group, as sharks usually approach isolated people.
  • If possible, do not go far away from the shore as you would be far from quick help.
  • If you are aware of a shark’s presence in the water, don’t go in.
  • Avoid bright colors and shiny objects.
  • While it may not mean so much, it may be great to avoid blood. Don’t enter the water if you are bleeding.
  • If, after doing everything to stay safe, you come face to face with a tiger shark, the first thing to do is stay calm, square up with the fish and move purposefully towards the shore without backing the shark.
  • If a tiger shark attacks you, get a grip of yourself as quickly as possible and defend yourself. Try to punch it on the nose or gills.

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