Are Tiger Sharks Aggressive? Do They Attack Humans?: A Complete Guide

Ever since the first shark attack film was released, many humans have developed a fear of sharks. For many people, this fear will be irrational, as they will not enter large bodies of water where sharks reside.

But for those who live near well-known shark locations, and those who spend a lot of time out at sea, this fear is very real.

Are Tiger Sharks Aggressive Do They Attack Humans A Complete Guide

One species of shark that a lot of people tend to associate with aggression is the tiger shark. In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at the tiger shark to find out if they are aggressive, and also if they attack humans.

So, if you want to find out more, check out this complete guide!

The Difference Between Aggression in Sharks and Humans

Before we go any further, we first have to differentiate between aggression in sharks and aggression in humans. What human beings identify as aggression can often be normal behavior in the animal world.

So, in order to identify if tiger sharks are aggressive, we need to know the difference between human aggression and shark aggression. 

In human beings, aggression is considered to be bad. When somebody is being aggressive, they are generally not being very nice to you, and your health and welfare could be at risk.

In the human world, aggression is not an accepted behavior, and it is something that is frowned upon in most cultures. 

But, aggression in the animal world is very different. This is because human beings have lost the need to hunt to survive, but in the animal kingdom, this is still very real.

When an animal has to hunt for its food, then aggression is vital in order to survive. 

Hunting in itself is perceived as aggressive by humans, even though it is essential for an animal’s survival. So, aggression in the shark world cannot be seen the same as aggression in the human world.

Now that we have put this into perspective, let’s take a look at aggression in tiger sharks. 

What Are Tiger Sharks?

But first, let’s take a quick look at what a tiger shark is. There are lots of different species of shark in the animal kingdom, all of which come in different shapes and sizes. So, let’s find out what the tiger shark is. 

Tiger sharks are a species of requiem shark, and they can grow to more than 5 meters in length.

They are a species of shark that tend to reside in warmer areas, such as tropical and temperate waters, mainly around the South Pacific Islands. 

Tiger sharks are solitary creatures, and they mostly hunt at night. They are pretty much nocturnal, so they will hunt whatever they can during the time in which they are active.

Due to this, they have one of the widest food spectrums of all the sharks, consuming all sorts of different things, from crustaceans to dolphins. 

Like many species of sharks, tiger sharks have to hunt in order to survive, and this can cause some people to see them as aggressive. But is this just a misconception, and are tiger sharks friendly? Let’s find out. 

Are Tiger Sharks Friendly?

As we have said, when studying the animal kingdom, it is very important to differentiate between aggressive behavior and behavior that is needed in order to survive.

Due to this, some of the sweetest animals in the world can appear aggressive at times because this aggression is needed in order to hunt. But is this the case for tiger sharks?

By all accounts, no it isn’t. Tiger sharks are not particularly friendly creatures to any animals, especially not humans.

When they encounter humans, this large species of shark tends to actively be aggressive towards them, and they have been known to attack. 

However, it would appear that not all tiger sharks are the same.

While there have been many incidences of tiger sharks showing aggression towards human beings, there have also been some times when sharks have been kind towards humans. 

In some videos, tiger sharks have been shown approaching humans in need of affection, and some tiger sharks have even wanted to be petted by humans, just as you would pet a dog.

But it would seem that these friendly tiger sharks are few and far between. 

Will Tiger Sharks Be Aggressive to Humans?

On occasion, you may encounter a friendly tiger shark. But most of the time, it isn’t in these creatures’ nature to be friendly. Tiger sharks have to hunt in order to survive, and this requires aggression.

In the many years of having to hunt to live, it would seem that this aggression has become a trait of tiger sharks, and not only when they are hunting. 

There are many creatures that have to hunt to survive that can be friendly too. But unfortunately, the tiger shark is not one of them.

While the occasional tiger shark may be friendly, as a species this doesn’t tend to be the case for these animals.

Generally, tiger sharks tend to be aggressive first, and this coupled with their boldness can be dangerous for humans. 

As well as being aggressive, tiger sharks are not scared easily. This species of shark is very inquisitive and bold, so they will swim up to new things in the water.

This is why surfers, scuba divers and swimmers tend to be so interesting to tiger sharks. Tiger sharks like to explore new things, so a new creature in the water that they live in is very exciting. 

Do Tiger Sharks Attack Humans?

It is clear that tiger sharks are fascinated by humans. These sharks like to explore new things and are very bold, so they have been known to swim directly up to humans that are swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving in the water.

Surfers also prove fascinating to these sharks. But do tiger sharks attack humans? 

Yes, tiger sharks have been known to attack humans. There are a number of different species of shark that have attacked human beings, and the tiger shark is one of them.

However, human beings are not seen as prey by tiger sharks, so they do not actively attack them. Any tiger shark attacks that have occurred tend to be a case of mistaken identity. 

Tiger sharks attack things when they are hunting. Primarily, they will hunt sea creatures such as crustaceans, squids, octopuses, turtles, and even some smaller species of shark.

Humans are not part of a tiger shark’s food chain, and so they do not actively hunt them. In fact, humans hunt tiger sharks more actively than tiger sharks hunt humans. But in the past, tiger sharks have attacked humans. 

Have Tiger Sharks Ever Attacked Humans?

Yes, there have been a number of tiger shark attacks on humans. Just like many other species of shark that actively hunt, such as the Great White, there have been a number of tiger shark attacks on humans.

At the time of writing, this number stands at 131. 

This means that there have been 131 confirmed tiger shark attacks on humans. This number could be higher if unconfirmed attacks are taken into account.

Of this 131, 34 of these attacks have ended up being fatal, and a number of the remaining attacks have been life altering.

Tiger sharks are large creatures with strong jaws and the ability to reach high speeds, so they can do a lot of damage to human beings when they want to. 

Tiger sharks actually have one of the highest levels of fatalities out of the different sharks that have been known to attack human beings.

The only species of shark that has a higher number of fatalities among its shark attacks are Great White sharks which have a confirmed 52 fatal attacks on human beings. 

As we have said, human beings are not part of a tiger shark’s food chain. So, why do tiger sharks attack humans? Let’s take a look. 

Are Tiger Sharks Aggressive Do They Attack Humans A Complete Guide

Why Do Tiger Sharks Attack Humans?

Just like Great White sharks, the main reason behind tiger shark attacks on humans is mistaken identity. Humans do not form part of a tiger shark’s food chain, so they do not actively hunt them to eat.

In cases where a shark can tell that a human is a human, they may approach them, but not attack. Almost always, a tiger shark will only attack if they have mistaken the human for prey. 

Tiger sharks tend to hunt from deeper in the water, and come higher up in the water when they see prey.

From below, it is possible that a tiger shark could mistake a human being for something else. Especially if that human being is wearing scuba diving gear. 

For example, tiger sharks really like the taste of turtles. Turtles are one of the creatures that they tend to hunt, and from a distance, a human being who is surfing could look suspiciously like a turtle that is treading water. 

When you think about it, there are all sorts of different sea creatures that a human could be mistaken for from a distance. This is why most tiger shark attacks occur by accident.

It is very rare for these sharks to actively attack humans, unless they are provoked.

In fact, as we said earlier, it is much more common for human beings to hunt tiger sharks than vice versa.

A number of humans hunt these creatures for their fins, and as a result, these sharks are considered “near threatened” in their conservation status. So perhaps tiger sharks should be more afraid of us than we are of them. 

Can You Swim With Tiger Sharks?

For many people, swimming with sharks is something that is on their bucket list. Depending on where in the world you are, there will be different sharks that you can swim with.

If you reside near the Caribbean Sea, then swimming with tiger sharks might be a good option for you. But can you swim with tiger sharks?

Yes, you absolutely can swim with tiger sharks! In many areas in the Caribbean Sea, there will be tour operators that offer the ability to swim with these magnificent creatures.

These tours have been running for many years, and most of the time they are absolutely safe. If you want to swim with sharks, then completing one of these tours is the best option for you. 

However, you should never forget that these sharks are dangerous, so there is always a certain level of risk associated with these trips.

If you do participate in one, you should keep your wits about you, and remain vigilant at all times. Even if a tiger shark doesn’t want to attack you, they have been known to be very sneaky, so they could give you a bit of a scare. 

Where Do Most Tiger Shark Attacks Occur?

Most tiger shark attacks occur when humans venture into the areas of water where tiger sharks actively hunt. The chance of being attacked is even higher if you enter these areas on a surfboard. 

When you go on a guided tour to go swimming with tiger sharks, the guides know a lot about the behavioral habits of the sharks in that area.

As a result, they can take you to areas where you can safely swim with sharks. That is why you should always choose a guided tour if you want to swim with sharks. 


In short, yes, tiger sharks are aggressive. But they need to be aggressive in order to survive in the wild.

On occasion, tiger sharks have attacked human beings, but this has almost always been a case of mistaken identity. Find out more in the guide above. 

Thank you for reading! 

Mikayla Adams

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