Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 37–46 | Cite as

Size, Sex And Geographic Variation in the Diet of the Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo Cuvier, From Western Australian Waters

  • Colin A. Simpfendorfer
  • Adrian B. Goodreid
  • Rory B. McAuley


Stomach contents from tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, caught on lines off the central coast of Western Australia were analysed to investigate variations in the diet due to sex, size and geographic location. Stomachs from 84 specimens contained food, while 26 had empty stomachs and 66 had regurgitated. Twelve prey groups were identified, the most common being turtles, sea snakes, teleost fishes, dugongs and sea birds. Dietary overlap was high between males and females. An ontogenetic shift was observed in the diet. Smaller prey (e.g. cephalopods, teleosts and sea snakes) were more common in small individuals, while the occurrence of larger prey (e.g. turtles, dugongs and elasmobranchs) increased with increasing shark size. Differences in the diet were observed between four regions along the central Western Australian coast. The ability to catch and consume large prey, prey availability, prey density, and prey profitability were identified as factors influencing the diet. The high level of occurrence of dugongs and turtles in the diet of G. cuvier, relative to their abundance, suggests that shark predation may play an important role in regulating populations of these species.

turtle dugong fishery interaction prey diversity ontogenetic dietary shift 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bass, A.J., J.D. D'Aubrey & N. Kistnasamy. 1975. Sharks of the east coast of southern Africa. III. The families Carcharhinidae (excluding Mustelus and Carcharhinus) and Sphyrnidae. Oceanographic Research Institute (Durban) Investigational Report 38: 1–100.Google Scholar
  2. Cockeroft, V.G., G. Cliff & G.J.B. Ross. 1989. Shark predation on Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus off Natal, South Africa. S. Afr. J. Zool. 24: 305–310.Google Scholar
  3. Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO species catalogue, vol. 4. Sharks of the world; annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 2. Carcharhiniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis 125: 251–655.Google Scholar
  4. Corkeron, P.J., R.J. Morris & M.M. Bryden. 1987. Interactions between bottlenose dolphins and sharks in Moreton Bay, Queensland. Aquat. Mamm. 13: 109–113.Google Scholar
  5. Gudger, E.W. 1948. Stomach contents of tiger sharks, Galeocerdo, reported from the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Australian Museum Magazine 9: 282–287.Google Scholar
  6. Gudger, E.W. 1949. Natural history notes on tiger sharks, Galeocerdo tigrinis, caught at KeyWest, Florida, with emphasis on food and feeding habits. Copeia 1949: 39–47.Google Scholar
  7. Heinsohn, G.E. 1972. A study of dugongs (Dugong dugong) in North Queennsland, Australia. Biol. Cons. 4: 203–213.Google Scholar
  8. Heithaus, M.R. 2001. The biology of tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, in Shark Bay, Western Australia: sex ratio, size distribution, diet, and seasonal changes in catch rates. Env. Biol. Fish. 61: 25–36.Google Scholar
  9. Hyslop, E.J. 1980. Stomach contents analysis - a reviewof methods and their application. J. Fish Biol. 17: 411–429.Google Scholar
  10. Krebs, C.J. 1989. Ecological methods. Harper & Rowe Publishers, New York. 654 pp.Google Scholar
  11. Langton, R.S. 1982. Diet overlap between the Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua, silver hake, Merluccius bilinearis and fifteen other Atlantic finfish. U.S. Fish. Bull. 80: 745–759.Google Scholar
  12. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and rays of Australia. CSIRO, Melbourne. 513 pp.C84 plates.Google Scholar
  13. Lowe, C.J., B.M. Wetherbee, G.L. Crow & A.L. Tester. 1996. Ontogenetic dietary shifts and feeding behaviour of the tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier, in Hawaiian waters. Env. Biol. Fish. 47: 203–211.Google Scholar
  14. Mann, J. & H. Barnett. 1999. Lethal tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) attack on bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops sp.) calf: defense and reactions by the mother. Mar. Mamm. Sci. 15: 568–575.Google Scholar
  15. Moss, S.A. 1972. The feeding mechanism of sharks of the family Carcharhinidae. J. Zool. Lond. 167: 423–436.Google Scholar
  16. Preen, A.R., H. Marsh, I.R. Lawler, R.I.T. Prince & R. Shepherd. 1997. Distribution and abundance of dugongs, turtles, dolphins and othermegafauna in Shark Bay, Ningaloo Reef and Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. Wildlife Research 24: 185–208.Google Scholar
  17. Rancurel, P. & A. Intes. 1982 Le requin tigre, Galeocerdo cuvier Lacepède, des eaux Neo-caledoniennes examen des contenus stomacaux. Tethys 10: 195–199.Google Scholar
  18. Randall, J.E. 1992. Review of the biology of the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier). Aust. J. Mar. Freshw. Res. 43: 21–31.Google Scholar
  19. Sheard, K. 1962. The Western Australian rock lobster fishery 1944-1966. Paterson Brokensha, Perth. 107 pp.Google Scholar
  20. Simpfendorfer, C. 1992. Biology of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) caught by the Queensland shark meshing program off Townsville, Australia. Aust. J. Mar. Freshw. Res. 43: 33–43.Google Scholar
  21. Stevens, J.D. 1984. Biological observations on sharks caught by sport fishermen off New South Wales. Aust. J. Mar. Freshw. Res 35: 573–590.Google Scholar
  22. Stevens, J.D. & K.J. Mc Loughlin. 1991. Distribution, size and sex composition, reproductive biology and diets of sharks from northern Australia. Aust. J. Mar. Freshw. Res 42: 151–199.Google Scholar
  23. Strong, W.R. 1991. Instruments of natural selection: how important are sharks? pp. 70–73. In: S.H. Gruber (ed.) Discovering Sharks, A Volume Honoring the Work of Stewart Springer, American Littoral Society, Highlands.Google Scholar
  24. Witzell, W.N. 1987. Selective predation on large cheloniid sea turtles by tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier). Japan. J. Herp. 12: 22–29.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin A. Simpfendorfer
    • 1
  • Adrian B. Goodreid
    • 2
  • Rory B. McAuley
    • 1
  1. 1.Western Australian Marine Research LaboratoriesNorth BeachAustralia
  2. 2.SpearwoodAustralia

Personalised recommendations