The Tahiti Traveler

Meet the tiger shark

Face to face with a formidable predator

Sanctuary for a multitude of shark species, French Polynesia has emerged in recent years as THE dive spot for thrill seekers. The tiger shark is a specie that inspires awe and most of the time, fear.  During your underwater visits, you would have a good chance of crossing its path.

 

No less than 20 shark species are listed in French Polynesia! Small wonder, given that all have been protected since 2006 … Feared everywhere else, the shark has become one of the French Polynesia’s main tourist attractions takes the front page of all  brochures of all scuba dive clubs.

 

Anatomy of a daunting predator

With its sleek, however, massive profile, its bluish-gray form punctuated by dark stripes like those of a tiger, recognizing it is unmistakable:  you have in front of you the famous tiger shark! Its imposing size measures from 10-15 feet! – More accustomed to deeper waters, it rarely ventures near the surface except at night when it is time to feed.

 

Its reputation precedes it, earning it the moniker of the “garbage disposal” shark, referring to its particular penchant for its indiscriminate diet.   Turtles, dolphins and other whales therein, fall into the same ranking as some ocean trash: cans, pieces of wood … This lack of discernment classifies it in the category of potentially dangerous sharks, although no attack has ever been identified in French Polynesia.

 

In the aim of keeping shark observation safe, the practice of shark baiting is highly regulated in French Polynesia and is strictly prohibited in lagoons and within two miles of passes. It has credited the notoriety of many famous dive spots for shark observation, like the “Vallée Blanche” (the White Valley, located on the West coast of Tahiti where one finds a multitude of species: black tip, gray reef, lemon sharks … and with luck (and a dose of courage), the famous tiger shark! Certainly a good entry into your dive logbook!