"Estuaries such as Long Island Sound are among the most valuable ecosystems in the world. The Sound supports diverse marine life, including most of the fish and shellfish we value as food ..."

– Connecticut Sea Grant

Conservation & Research

LIS map copy

Long Island Sound Fun Fact

Long Island Sound is 113 miles long, 21 miles wide (at its widest) and holds about 18 trillion gallons of water. Its average depth is 63 feet – which is just a little deeper than the height of our IMAX screen! Can you fathom that?!

sand tiger

Common Name: Sand Tiger Shark  (known in other parts of the world as the spotted ragged-tooth shark and the grey nurse shark)

Latin Name:  Carcharias taurus

Size:  Males, to about 6.5 feet long;  females, to over 7 feet.  Reports of lengths to 10 feet.

Range:  Worldwide in subtropical and temperate waters except for the eastern Pacific. In the western Atlantic, from the Gulf of Maine (including Long Island Sound) down to Florida, as well as around the Bahamas and the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat:  Coastal waters, including bays and estuaries (including Long Island Sound), usually closer to the bottom in depths down to 100 feet.

Diet:  Wide variety of fish and invertebrates

Predators:  They're an apex predator, so only larger sharks. Humans are the real concern. (See Conservation Note)

Description:  This is the largest of the sharks considered to be native to Long Island Sound. Sand tigers are tan-gray (often with hints of spots) with whiter undersides.  The snout is flattened, and the two dorsal fins are of equal size. Their long thin "snaggle" teeth are visible at all times (unlike, for example, the recessed teeth of the Aquarium's similarly sized lemon shark). Their hardy adaptability to human care and their mouthful of visible teeth make them a common and popular shark in public aquariums. 

Conservation Note:  Listed as "Vulnerable" by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature & Natural Resources). Their numbers have been reduced by commercial fishing (especially as a food dish in Japan), and sport fishing. With only two pups per litter, they are slow to repopulate.  In the U.S., sand tigers received full protection on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts in 1997 under the Atlantic Fishery Management Plan. Any sand tiger caught must be immediately released with minimal harm to the shark.

See them in the "Ocean Beyond the Sound" exhibit »