Sandtiger Shark, <i>Odontaspis ferox</i> Click to enlarge image
The head of a Sandtiger Shark caught off southern New South Wales. Image: Ian Merrington
© DPI Fisheries

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 3.8 m in length.


The Sandtiger Shark is grey-brown above, shading to paler below. The species looks similar to the endangered Greynurse Shark.


The Sandtiger Shark has an asymmetrical caudal fin and a first dorsal fin that is larger than both the second dorsal and anal fins. It has long awl-like teeth with two to three pairs of lateral cusplets. It is grey-brown above shading to paler below.

The species looks similar to the endangered Greynurse Shark. The latter species has similar sized dorsal fins and a single pair of lateral cusplets on each tooth.

The common name 'Herbst's Shark' was coined by G.P. Whitley in his 1950 description of the species Odontaspis herbsti (a junior synonym of O. ferox). The common name reflects the contribution of Mr. W.A. Herbst who donated the holotype (AMS IB.2136) and paratype (AMS IB.1959) of this species to the Australian Museum.


The species occurs in continental shelf and slope waters to a depths of around 850 m.


The Sandtiger Shark has been recorded from scattered localities in most seas and oceans. In Australia it is known from off New South Wales (to a depth of 850 m) and north-western Australia (to 420 m).

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Feeding and diet

It eats bony fishes, crustaceans and cephalopods.

Economic impacts

In New South Wales it is listed as a protected species under the common name Herbsts Nurse Shark.


  1. Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 4, Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 1 - Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes: viii, 1-250. (as Smalltooth Sand Tiger Shark).
  2. Compagno, L.J.V. & Niem, V.H. 1998. Odontaspididae. in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (Eds). FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 2. Cephalopods, crustaceans, holothurians and sharks. FAO, Rome. Pp. iii-vi, 688-1396.
  3. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  4. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513.
  5. Whitley, G. P. 1950. Studies in ichthyology. No. 14. Records of the Australian Museum. 22:3: 234-245.