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Sharks of Blue Planet: Sand Tiger Sharks

Sand tiger shark

Sand Tiger Sharks – Looks can be deceiving

Sand Tiger Sharks look scary at first glance with their long, sleek, grey bodies and pointed snouts. Also, take a look at their wide mouth full to the brim of vicious-looking teeth! Growing up to 3.2 metres long and weighing an extraordinary amount, they’re imposing. However, they’re quite docile.


These sharks tend to inhabit the continental shelf from sandy shores and deep reefs. This is where they get the sand in their names. You’ll find them in warm waters across the world. Including Japan, Australia, South Africa, and the east coast of the Americas. They even lived in the Mediterranean. They’re now believed to be extinct in the area, due to no sightings for some time.


You’ll find Sand Tiger Sharks between the surface and depths of 200 meters. They’re the only shark we’re aware of that come to the surface to gulp air. They store air in their stomachs. This stored air means they’re able to float relatively still at a particular depth. Allowing them to efficiently stalk prey. Including small fish, crustaceans, and squid. They sometimes hunt in groups and can live in ‘Shivers’ within their habitat.

Threat of extinction

As we mentioned, Sand Tiger Sharks are widespread. Unfortunately, they have a very low reproduction rate. Making them vulnerable to population decline through external factors. Things like the destruction of coral reefs, the shark-fin trade and fishing by-catch. Sand Tiger Sharks are on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered.

The Sand Tiger Sharks of Blue Planet Aquarium

There are six Sand Tiger Sharks that call Blue Planet Aquarium home. Two females, Wilma and Betty. Four males, Alfie, Dave, Dingle and Flare. Betty is by far the largest, we estimate she’s about 36 stone and roughly 3 metres in length. Flare is the most recognisable with his extended jaw and prominent teeth. Dave is the smallest, only recently arriving at Blue Planet. Wilma is the eldest, with our records having her at a minimum of 25 years old. Alfie is the diver’s favourite and the most photogenic, he always seems to get the best photos! Dingle is our largest male and is a bit of a lovable giant.

Where to find them

You’ll find the Sand Tigers in our Ocean Exhibit, from our Aquatheatre window and all along the Shark Tunnel. You can’t miss them. They are the largest sharks that live at Blue Planet.

Tags: Animal Spotlight, Sand Tiger Shark, Shark

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