What is a Sand Shark?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

The sand shark is a slow, bottom-dwelling shark known for its mouthful of long, sharp teeth. Sand sharks are considered gentle creatures, however, and generally do not harm humans unless threatened by them. They are lighter than many other shark species and typically brown in color.

Sand sharks sometimes hunt and eat squid.
Sand sharks sometimes hunt and eat squid.

Members of the Odontaspididae family, sand sharks are found worldwide. Some people fish for the shark as a food source, though it is not considered highly sought after in most areas. Sand shark fishing typically takes place during the summer months, as the warm temperatures often bring the fish closer to water bays.

These sharks can grow up to 13 feet (4 m) in length, and usually weigh under 150 pounds (68 kg). Sand sharks are usually distinguished by their large second dorsal and anal fins. Most are brown or light gray in hue, though some appear gray-white. Oval spots or markings often dot the fish, providing a yellow or brown splash of color.

Teeth of the sand shark are mostly smooth. Pointy and narrow, they are long and suited for catching small prey. A pair of denticles, or small spurs, are also located in the sand shark's mouth.

Parents hatch their eggs inside their bodies. Once the hatched sharks can survive on their own, they exit their mother's body. Female sand sharks typically produce two young sharks, one per uterus. Young sharks are often fed their mother's own unfertilized eggs.

Unlike any other species of shark known to mankind, the sand shark must surface to obtain large amounts of air before submerging back into the water. The swallowed air is then stored in the shark's belly, allowing it to float along without making movements. This makes the sand shark, though considered a sluggish creature, a particularly stealthy predator.

Sand sharks primarily consume small fish. Some favorite foods of the sand shark may include flounder, mackerel, and skate. Squid and crabs are also included in the diet of this type of shark. The animals, which have considerable appetites, are also known to eat lobster.

Four species of sand shark exist. The Indian sand tiger and the sand tiger shark both belong to the Genus Carcharias. Another genus, Odontaspis, is made up by the bigeye sand tigers and smalltooth sand tigers. These types of sharks have been given many nicknames, including ragged tooth sharks, sand tiger sharks, dogfish sharks, ground sharks, and gray nurse sharks.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments


@oceanswimmer: The female and male sand tiger sharks breed sexually. The male fertilizes some of the female eggs. Each of the fertilized eggs subsists for some time on a packet of yolk attached to their bodies.

The yolk sacs are soon exhausted. The baby sharks remain in the two uteri and then eat all of the eggs that were not fertilized. When they have eaten all of the eggs, the babies turn on each other until there is only one shark left in each womb. Those are the two baby sharks that are born. Occasionally, one of the babies (also called pups) dies and there will be only one live birth.


I need some sand tiger shark facts, primarily about reproduction. Any help would be appreciated.


@cmsmith10: The sand shark is in Kingdom Animalia, Family Odontaspididae, Phylum Chordata, Order Lamniformes, Genus Carcharias, and Class Chondrichthyes.


Does anyone know the kingdom, phylum, class, etc. of the sand shark?

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