Shark Adaptability: Can Tiger Sharks Live In Freshwater?

can tiger sharks live in freshwater

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Tiger sharks are some of the most feared predators in the ocean. They can grow up to 5 meters long and weigh up to 1400 pounds.

They eat a varied diet of fish, rays, crabs, shellfish, small sharks, and more. In this post, we’re going to answer a question many of our readers ask. Can tiger sharks live in freshwater?

No, tiger sharks can not live in freshwater. They are unlike the bull shark in that they do not have the same powerful kidneys in order to remove saltwater through urine.

Let’s take a closer look…

Can Tiger Sharks Really Live In Freshwater?

Tiger sharks are seriously impressive apex predators. They get their name from the unique tiger-like stripes on their bodies which make them easy to identify.

They are found in warm, tropical waters and inhabit both oceanic waters (up to 140m) as well as shallow coastal waters.

However, they do not live in freshwater, thankfully! Sharks that live in freshwater often come into contact with humans, which can result in a number of serious bites and make the sharks much more dangerous.

Tiger sharks have not adapted to living in freshwater, and instead, need to stay in salt water to survive. Phew!

Which Shark Species Can Live In Freshwater?

The bull shark is renowned for its large size, aggressive nature, and ability to be able to live in freshwater as well as seawater.

This makes the bull shark one of the most deadly sharks on the planet, and a shark that is responsible for 121 shark attacks according to the Florida Museums’ study.

This species of shark is commonly found in bays, coastlines, and harbors, which means they are much more likely to run into people.

Bull sharks can travel far up rivers and have been known to travel up the Mississippi River as far as 700 miles away from the ocean.

Unlike other species of sharks, bull sharks can thrive in freshwater and are more than capable of staying in freshwater for long periods of time, provided there is enough food.

One of the main reasons bull sharks are able to survive in freshwater is because of their kidneys. Whilst in freshwater they produce large amounts of urine.

tiger shark
Photo by Jeremy Lanfranchi on Unsplash

In fact, bull sharks will urinate up to 20 times more in freshwater than in the ocean.

They also have an impressive liver that produces lots of urea which keeps them from drying out or becoming sick.

Where Do Tiger Sharks Live?

Tiger sharks are found in warm, tropical waters all over the world, with the exception of the Mediterranean sea.

It’s a species that is at home both in deep oceanic waters, as well as shallow coastal waters, which is one of the reasons why they too have many encounters with humans.

Tiger sharks can be found in Hawaii, Australia, the Caribbean Islands as well as the Gulf of Mexico, North American beaches, and parts of South America.

How Long Could A Tiger Shark Survive In Fresh Water?

The length of time a tiger shark could survive in freshwater is going to depend a lot on the size of the individual shark.

Tiger sharks are not adapted to living in freshwater, and therefore would not be able to survive for longer than a couple of hours in it.

Without salt, a tiger shark’s cells would eventually rupture and ultimately lead to the shark’s death.

There are quite a few that can survive in freshwater for as long as 12 hours or more, and some species have almost fully adapted to living in freshwater.

However, the bull shark is currently the only known shark that is able to switch from seawater to freshwater without issue, which is what makes them so dangerous for communities.

Final Thoughts

So, can tiger sharks live in freshwater? No, they cannot. These sharks have adapted to living in saltwater, and therefore need saltwater to survive.

Unlike bull sharks, they are not able to switch freely between saltwater and freshwater and need to live in the ocean, where this species belongs.

Rivers, lakes, and other bodies of freshwater are out of the question for tiger sharks and many other species, it would be like asking how long a human can survive on Mars.

Hopefully, this post has been helpful in understanding why tiger sharks cannot live in freshwater and you’ve learned something new today about this shark species.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to share it with others who may find it of value.