Discover the Biggest Tiger Shark Ever Caught Off Florida

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Updated: October 8, 2022
© Tomas Kotouc/Shutterstock.com
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Florida is located in the Southeastern United States. It’s a peninsula, so it’s almost entirely surrounded by water. It is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida, and the Atlantic Ocean. Thousands of sharks inhabit the area, and people often spot them on the shores. One of these sharks is the tiger shark, which is among the most common in Florida. Let’s find out more about it – how it looks, how long the biggest tiger shark caught off Florida is, and whether it’s dangerous. For comparison, we’ve also prepared a list of the world’s biggest sharks!

What are tiger sharks?

Tiger sharks are requiem sharks representing the Carcharhinidae family of migratory sharks living in tropical waters.

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Tiger sharks, or Galeocerdo cuvier, are requiem sharks representing the Carcharhinidae family of migratory sharks living in tropical waters. They are the only extant Galeocerdo genus members. Other sharks in the family include bull sharks, blacknose sharks, and spinner sharks. 

Tiger sharks are easily distinguished from other sharks due to the vertical dark stripes on their backs. They have smooth, gray skin with a white underside. They can grow as long as 14 feet and weigh as much as 1,400 pounds. The tiger shark record is 24.6 feet long and 1,780 pounds heavy. These sharks are saltwater fish that inhabit tropical waters worldwide. They can be found in the eastern Pacific from southern California to Peru, in the western Atlantic, from Uruguay to the north of Cape Cod, around New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands, Africa, and other parts of the region, such as the Red Sea. When the seasons change, tiger sharks migrate. 

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These shark species eat squid, sea birds, clams, sea turtles, and even smaller sharks. In fact, tiger sharks eat almost anything, even all the rubbish that gets into the water as a consequence of human action. They can eat anything thanks to their unique teeth pointed in different directions. The main tiger shark predators are killer whales and humans, who catch them for their fins, skin, and the oil in their liver. 

Do tiger sharks live around Florida?

Yes, tiger sharks are common around Florida. People spotted tiger sharks in South Florida and around the Florida Keys. Locals and tourists often visit Florida to see tiger sharks, specifically from December to July. 

What is the biggest tiger shark ever caught off Florida?

Largest Tiger Shark - tiger sharks swimming together
The biggest tiger shark ever caught off Florida weighed 1,065 pounds.

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The biggest tiger shark ever caught off Florida weighed 1,065 pounds. Richard Baggs caught it in Pensacola, the westernmost city in West Florida. It happened on June 20, 1981. 

Another large tiger shark was caught in Florida in 2021 by a father and son. Although they couldn’t beat Baggs’ record, they caught a pregnant tiger shark measuring 13 feet long and weighing 900 pounds. 

In 2019, Mark Stock caught another huge tiger shark around Florida. It was a 14-foot, 1,100-pound tiger shark. However, this didn’t become a world record because the shark was released. 

What is the biggest tiger shark on record?

On June 13, 1964, Walter Maxwell caught a 1,780-pound tiger shark that measured 13 feet and 10.5 inches long. The angler caught it on Cherry Grove Pier in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Kevin J. Clampson set another world record in 2004 on the coast of Ulladulla, Australia, when he caught a larger tiger shark, weighing 6 pounds more than the one caught in 1964.

However, these are only some of the details that have become official records, but no one truly knows what lurks in the ocean’s depths. There may be much larger tiger sharks out there that might never be caught or measured. For example, marine biologist Kori Garza spotted a large living shark named Kamakai around French Polynesia. It measured around 16-18 feet long. She later searched Kamakai but never found it in the water. 

Do tiger sharks attack humans?

Tiger Shark open mouth
Tiger sharks are among the most aggressive sharks worldwide.

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Although they do not bite often, tiger sharks are among the most aggressive sharks worldwide, ranking second after great white sharks and before bull sharks. They are dangerous because they can attack unprovoked. If you’ve ever read the book or watched the movie “Soul Surfer,” then you must know that it’s based on a true story – that of Bethany Hamilton surviving a tiger shark attack in 2003. She was 13 years old at the time and lost her left arm. 

Tiger sharks attacked 131 humans, out of which 34 died. These sharks often go to harbors, shallow reefs, or river mouths where they can “stumble upon” humans. Many tiger shark attacks take place in Hawaii. 

What is the biggest shark spotted in Florida?

The biggest shark in Florida was spotted in March 2022. It was a 1,600-pound, 12-foot male great white shark. This shark was first spotted in 2021 in Nova Scotia. The OCEARCH, a non-profit marine group, can track this shark thanks to the electronic tracker they “equipped” the shark with. According to the tracker, this great white shark traveled 3,910 miles in just 119 days. People found it on the Gulf Coast in Florida, where it is believed to have lived since around Valentine’s Day, 2022.

What other sharks live in Florida?

Florida hosts 15 shark species, according to this study. These are:

The most common are nurse sharks, blacktip sharks, and lemon sharks.

What is the biggest shark in the world?

Whale shark swimming with pilot fish.
The whale shark is the biggest shark in the world.

©Tee Wong/Shutterstock.com

Tiger sharks rank 4th among the top 10 biggest sharks in the world. The first one is the whale shark. Compared to the average 14-foot tiger shark length, the whale shark is much longer, measuring about 60 feet. Their average weight is 15 tons. The whale shark record was set in 2001 by a 62-foot, 60-ton shark. The whale shark has a unique pattern: dark gray with white stripes that look like polka dots. 

Other large sharks are:


The Featured Image

Biggest Fish: Tiger Shark
Tiger Shark interacting with Scuba Diver. Tiger sharks are named for the dark, vertical stripes found mainly on juveniles. As these sharks mature, the lines begin to fade and almost disappear.
© Tomas Kotouc/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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