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Tiger Sharks and Great Whites are two of the biggest and most powerful predators on earth. They sit squarely at the top of the food chain, and eat anything that swims their way: dolphins, turtles, other Sharks – even boats, if you believe what they say in the movies. It’s safe to say that none of us want to get on the wrong side of these toothy terrors.
However, other than their size and aggression, Great Whites and Tiger Sharks are nothing alike. They prefer different habitats, and the ways they hunt are poles apart. In this article, you can learn all about what makes these Shark species special, from the way they look to the way they behave and much more.
Tiger Shark vs. Great White Size
Tigers and Great Whites are the biggest predatory Sharks alive today. But which is bigger? There’s actually not much to it in terms of length. Tiger Sharks average around 10-14 feet and max out at just over 18 feet. Fully-grown White Sharks (their official name) often reach around 16 feet. They may grow to 20 feet or even more, although monsters that size are rare.
Length is only half the story, though. Great Whites have a much heavier build than Tiger Sharks. A White Shark will generally weigh more than a Tiger Shark of the same size. That being said, neither of them are what you’d call skinny. Both species have been weighed in at over 3,000 pounds in the past, and they sure know how to throw their weight around.
How to Identify Tiger Sharks and Great Whites
There are several easy ways to distinguish Tiger Sharks vs. Great Whites. Firstly, their skin. Tiger Sharks are greenish blue, with a light yellow or gray belly. White Sharks are dark gray on top, switching sharply to white underneath. Then there are the markings. Tigers get their name from the signature stripes on their backs. These fade as the fish grows, but you can always make them out.
The biggest difference between the two species is probably their heads. Tiger Sharks have a blunt, square head with eyes on the corners and large, flared nostrils. Great Whites have a smaller head compared to the rest of their body. They also have a short, pointed nose with their eyes and nostrils set back towards their mouth.
On top of all that, the two fish have a different overall body shape. Tiger Sharks are all tail. They have a long top tail fin that stretches out behind them and a sleek body that tapers back from the head. Great Whites have a much rounder body with a powerful, symmetrical tail and long pectoral (side) fins.
Tiger Shark and White Shark Behavior
There’s a very good reason why these fish are shaped so differently: They hunt in completely opposite ways. Great Whites are all about power and speed. Shock and awe. They lurk in the deep, then burst up, hitting their prey before it even sees them coming. They’re famous for jumping clean out of the water, sending their unfortunate meal flying through the air if they don’t catch it in their jaws.
Tiger Sharks are the ninjas of the reef. They hunt mainly at night, drifting slowly through shallow water with small, sleek movements. Their patterned body makes them impossible to spot as they approach their prey. Once they’re in range, they pounce. A flip of their tail rockets them forward, and they kill or incapacitate their prey with sharp, serrated teeth.
Tiger Shark vs. Great White: Who Would Win?
Two very special fish. Two very distinct ways of hunting. So you might be wondering, who would win in a battle of Tiger Shark vs. Great White? A Great White, every single time. Orca whales are pretty much the only things in the ocean that pose a threat to adult White Sharks. In fact, there’s only one animal that seeks out and hunts these incredible creatures, and sadly, that’s us.
Shark Week is almost over, but we’ve saved the best for last. Check back tomorrow for our grand finale! If you can’t wait that long, you can find the rest of our Shark Week Specials here.