Tiger sharks exist at the top of the food chain, and they prey on a wide variety of species, including fish, sea turtles and other sharks. Additionally, tiger sharks prey on sea-dwelling birds, catching them as they land on the water’s surface. Mollusks such as sea snails, conchs and whelks also serve as prey for the opportunistic sharks. Tiger sharks are also scavengers that have been known to eat garbage.
According to the Shark Bay Ecosystem Research Project, tiger sharks are important in regulating the population of many of the small species that share their habitat. This includes those species that the tiger sharks hunt, as well as those that they rarely eat. This occurs because the non-prey species must still avoid the prowling tiger sharks; because of this, they cannot forage for food as often. This makes it harder for these species to grow, develop and breed successfully.
Although tiger sharks rarely attack humans, they are second to only great white sharks in terms of reported human attacks. In Hawaii, where tiger sharks are common, there is an average of one human attack each year, according to the Shark Bay Ecosystem Research Project.
While tiger sharks are apex predators, they are often caught and eaten by humans.
The specific prey of tiger sharks often varies from one location to the next. In some areas, sea snakes are common prey species, while dugongs are important prey in other areas. Tiger sharks have been called the ?garbage cans? of the sea, based on their penchant for eating strange items. Rubber boots, hubcaps, bags of charcoal, raincoats, handbags and other strange things are often found in the sharks? stomachs. One tiger shark even contained a suit of armor in its stomach.
Tiger sharks are at the top of the food chain in their local study areas. Because their impact on the ecosystem is disproportionately large to their prevalence, scientists refer to tiger sharks as a keystone species. This means that tiger sharks help to regulate the entire habitat by keeping prey species populations in check. Without the sharks to consume many of these small fish, the fish would consume too many resources from the habitat, which could cause the local ecosystem to collapse.