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Nat Geo WILD: Know Your Sharks—The Sand Tiger Shark

Despite the sand tiger shark’s ferocious appearance, it’s actually a rather docile, non-aggressive species. Don’t let its rows of ragged, razor-sharp teeth that protrude in all directions fool you, the sand shark is known to only attack when provoked.

The sand tiger shark has many monikers, the sand shark, ragged-tooth or raggie, and gray nurse shark. Their name comes from their tendency to swim in coastal waters and around coral reefs, usually trolling over sandy or rocky ocean floors. They’re bulky-bodied, maxing out at just over ten feet in length, and have a lifespan of over 15 years. Sand tigers are the only shark species that will actually swim to the surface, gulp air, and hold it in the stomach. This behavior allows them to stay buoyant and motionless in the water as they stalk prey (like rays, squid, crustaceans, and bony fishes).

Although this species is widespread and is not widely fished for food, it has one of the lowest reproduction rates of all sharks and is susceptible to even minimal population pressure. For this reason, it is listed as vulnerable and is protected in much of its range.

The sand tiger shark is just one of many shark species we may encounter during the live show, and we’ll continue to profile more of the species we expect to see. Check out the Know Your Sharks Photo Gallery for more.


  1. Patton921
    January 30, 2015, 1:49 pm

    Mine is more of a question. I am looking for swimming patterns vs eye site for the sand tiger shark. Kind of how the hammerhead ‘ s lateral undulation of its head helps it see in front and the the great white being an ambush predator and it’s eye site is more of a binocular vision as ours is. Could you point me in the right direction?