BY HEATHER MARLETTE
The main event now – the number one coolest shark according to yours truly. The Tiger Shark. This species is literally in a class itself, being the only species in the Galeocerdo genus. Overall picture, yes another requiem shark, though this shark is not viviparous, it is again the ONLY one in its class that is in fact ovoviviparous – though, I do have to admit the only real difference between viviparous and ovoviviparous is that in viviparous animals there is a placental connection and there is not in ovoviviparous, the unborn getting their nourishment instead from the yolk in their eggs. Female Tigers only mate every 3 years, generally in the months of March-May. The pups will gestate inside for up to 16 months. Again the females are often larger than the males; average length of the males is around 14 feet and 15 for the females.
They have a smaller body type than most of its rivals, with a very slim and straight-line design. They have bluish/greenish skin with a yellow or white belly. This is a great hunting advantage, as prey below the sharks will not see them when looking up. They of course have the dark stripes/spots running down their body that gives them their name; however these do fade with age. Tigers also have a smaller, wedge like head/snout, which makes turning easier for them, and have many sensory organs in their snouts and down their flanks to pick up the minutest of vibrations in the water, making them dangerous hunters since they can stay completely hidden in the dark. The Tiger Shark hunts alone, mainly at night. They are found in temperate or tropical waters, often in the central Pacific. This is a five gill shark, with 2 dorsal fins, and nictitating membranes to protect the eyes. They seem to have no real depth presence and have been recorded in water from 10 feet deep to depths of 3,000 feet.
Tigers are known for their ability and preference to eat ANYTHING from tiny fish to sea turtles – which seem to be a preference for adults. They also go after dolphins, to the point that science has evidence of dolphins avoiding areas with high Tiger Shark Populations. They are known to scavenge corpses of whales, and will actually join together to attack a whale in distress. These sharks are the epitome of the apex predator with their enhanced eyesight, sense of smell and sensory abilities. Since they have such highly developed hunting skills it is amazing that they have such a scavenger reputation that they are known in many circles as “wastebaskets of the sea.” Whether the water is clear or not, they will know exactly where their potential prey is located, and go forward with powerful bursts from their tail. They circle their potential victim, bumping it with their highly sensitive snout to investigate it – and when they are satisfied, they often take their prey whole. For larger victims it may take a few large bites. The Tiger is like a garbage disposal, and when cut open anything can be found in the stomach, from fish and turtles to horses, cats, and even rats to inanimate things like license plates, baseballs, and any other item the shark thought might be tasty. Though they like to swim lazily, barely moving their tail, they are actually quite good sprint swimmers and known as some of the strongest swimmers in the oceans.
This magnificent species has much lore around it, most notably in the Hawaiian culture. The Tiger Shark is known in Hawaii as one of their nā ʻaumākua – which is their version of a family God or deified ancestor. This type of God exists in many cultures, and is believed to be a deity or spirit that protects at least certain members of the family if not the family in a whole. It can also be tied back to the popular Hawaiian myth of Ka-moho-aliʻi who was located in the region of the waters between Maui and Kahoolawe. Mainly, when a ship was lost at sea, Ka-moho-aliʻi shook his tail in front of the lost and they would not only be feed, but also guided home. This God is often credited with being the one to bring the first citizens of Hawaii there.
There you have it. The number one, apex, best shark of the lot. I am sorry if your shark did not make my cut, but there you have it. Of course, this list is simply knowledge gathered after hearing something on a Shark Week show that piqued my interest and caused me to investigate something further. No science, nothing but my opinion and my reasoning’s. I welcome point counter point in the comments, because agree with the top ten or not you have to admit that as long as you have an opinion, the sharks may yet be saved. The Tiger, my favorite apex predator is also on the Nearly Threatened List. So many of these magnificent creatures are Nearly Threatened or at the beginning of actual Endangerment because of foolish reasons. Sport hunting the sharks, or commercial fisheries going after them for teeth, jaws, leather for shoes and belts, use in cosmetics. They are also used in cancer research projects, but since the parts we need to use wouldn’t let them survive, they are killed for this too. Let’s not forget about Shark-Fin-Soup. This may be considered a delicacy in some lands, but most can agree it is a tasteless soup that is made to impress people not for gourmet reasons. For the sharks that are killed for Finning – the fin is less than 4% of their body weight. After they are removed the sharks are generally thrown back to die. Over 100 different species of the 450 known shark species are seen as being endangered since their long term survival can no longer be foreseen, and more on the Nearly Threatened List. For creatures directly designed from the “sea monsters” of the prehistoric era, the only true danger that they have faced is human kind – and we cry about them being killing machines, make movies depicting them as vicious, mindless killers. Irony at the highest level.