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Sandtiger Shark Ė Carcharias taurus. - There are two other sandtiger species, the smalltooth sandtiger,
and the bigeye sandtiger. Those two species are not in New England waters,
The sandtiger is also commonly called the "sand shark" or "sand tiger." In Australia, it is called the "grey
nurse shark"; and in Africa, the "ragged tooth shark." Some other names used in the past were "dogfish
shark" and "ground shark". This species can attain an overall length of 10 feet, and attain a weight of 350
lbs. The sandtiger is basically a shore-hugging shark. In New England, if you see a shark with two dorsals
almost the same size, and no spikes in front of each dorsal, and with noticeable teeth - itís a sandtiger.
Sandtigers were plentiful in Massachusetts especially
on Cape Cod's south side into the early 1900s.
To give you an idea of their numbers, in 1918 three
fishermen caught 1900 sandtigers at Horseshoe Shoal,
on the south side of Cape Cod. The species declined in
the mid 1900s to the point they were a rare fish to be
taken north of Cape Cod, and not too many were
found elsewhere in southern New England for many
years. But that has changed starting in 1996.

Partial Excerpt from Mass. DMF Vol. 16, Dec 1996
"a summer that included catches of sand tiger sharks
in both Salem Harbor and Hingham Bay"
From 1996 onward the sandtiger started to make a noticeable recovery everywhere in Massachusetts Bay
harbors; especially in the Plymouth/Duxbury area. That really accelerated from 2005 to the present. They
were being caught by striped bass fishermen, and not many anglers knew then, what they were catching.
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ďThe more things change the more they stay the sameĒ.
For Many years this species was known as Carcharias taurus right into the 1960s. That scientific name was
later changed to
Eugomphodus taurus, and again to Odontaspis taurus. Those two different scientific names
Eugomphodus taurus, and Odontaspis taurus were used in many shark books written in the 1980s. Today
most authors use the older scientific name of
Carcharias taurus to describe the sandtiger, and that scientific
name is once again popular.
The reason I am making you aware of these scientific name changes is because you might see them in
different books and think logically they are talking about a different species. Using a different scientific name
to describe a species in the same time period is bad form, it is confusing , and that confusion exists with this
species to this day.
John Chisholm (Comm. of Mass), Jeff Kneebone (UMASS), working with local fisherman Dave Lindamood
(aka Santa Claus) have documented well over 200 hundred sandtigers in the Plymouth, Duxbury area since
2007. They released all of them, after measuring and tagging some for a migration study. The sandtigers leave
Plymouth, MA for the Carolinas in late September, and arrive back in Mass. Bay in late June. Two have
made it to Cape Canaveral, Florida; at least one of the Florida sandtigers returned to Plymouth Mass.
The stitches indicate
a device has been placed inside
to monitor it's travel pattern
Here is the Massachusetts prohibition on the sandtiger with some info
on the species:

Prohibited!!
The sand tiger is a coastal shark often encountered by shore fishermen while fishing for striped bass and
bluefish. Please note that this species is protected by both State and Federal laws. Fishermen in the area
should be aware that these sharks are in our coastal waters, bays, and estuaries from July through
September. Sand tigers have two dorsal fins of equal size and are grayish brown in appearance, often with
dusky spots on their sides and tail.

They are most often confused with smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis), but sand tigers have very noticeable
long thin teeth while smooth dogfish do not. The spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) is another small coastal
shark, but can easily be distinguished from a sand tiger by its two dorsal fin spines and the lack of anal fin.

State and Federal regulations prohibit anglers from actively fishing for sand tigers. If you accidentally catch
a sand tiger, you should take care to return it to the water unharmed. If you witness anyone retaining,
killing, or otherwise harming sand tigers please notify the Massachusetts Environmental Police at
800-632-8075
The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries is studying sand tigers in Massachusetts waters, and any
information on the occurrence of these sharks is much appreciated. If you would like to report sand tiger
information, please call: Massachusetts Shark Research Program at 508-910-6329 or 508-693-4372.
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A few things about sandtigers:

At the base of the teeth there are little cusps.
(prongs)

The eyes are yellowish with a round black pupil.
Itís eyes do not have a nictitating membrane to
protect them.

This is a great species for city aquariums.
They live a long time in captivity, and donít
require much food to sustain them.
It might have been the aquarium operators who
changed the common name from sand shark to
sandtiger to make the species sound more
menancing, and to match their highly visible teeth.
Donít confuse the sandtiger with the tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier, or the sandbar shark Carcharhinus
plumbeus.
This is a very finny fish with both dorsals the pelvic and anal fins almost the same size.
The Sandtiger feeds in shallow water on school fish. Menhaden are its favorite in New England.
Sandtigers are not normally found in waters north of Massachusetts.
They will go to the surface and gulp air to help maintain neutral buoyancy.
The offspring are formed in two separate uterine chambers; the first ones to develop teeth in those
separated chambers, eat their siblings, and the other eggs the mother produces- so only two sharks will be
born from many eggs. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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And don't forget the sandtiger is a protected species, so release it unharmed. - Tom
photo by John Chisholm
Marv photo
This shark is fitted with an internal
transmitting tag. When it gets within range of
one of the many recording stations on the
bottom, along the East Coast, it will be
identified, and the time and location recorded.
Protected species - release unharmed
no anal fin