Year of the Tiger

Year of the Tiger

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2022 is the year of the tiger according to the Chinese zodiac. Therefore, we’d like to introduce some of the sharks and rays that have “tiger” in its name.

Let's start with English. There is the Tiger shark and Sand tiger shark.

Tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) are named because of their stripes, and they are also known as the garbage can of the ocean. They eat fish, squid, birds, seals, sharks, turtles, and sometimes things that are not edible such as license plates and tires.

Sand tiger sharks (Odontaspididae spp.) are a group of three species. They live in the sandy shorelines, hence the name. Sand tiger(Carcharias taurus) pups eat their siblings while in mom’s uterus: the first embryo in the uterus feeds on its sibling embryos-a phenomenon known as adelphophagy (fraternal cannibalism).

Next is Mandarin:
The Chinese character for tiger is 虎 (pronouned hŭ )。

In Taiwan, zebra sharks (Stegostoma fasciatum) are called 大尾虎鮫 (literal translation: Big-tailed tiger shark). However, in China, they are called leopard sharks. Why the discrepancy? Turns out, zebra sharks have stripes when they were born, but their stripes turn into spots as they mature! Zebra sharks have been recorded to give birth to pups without mating, which is called parthenogenesis.

The order Heterodontiformes. This order is called 虎鯊目, the tiger shark order, in China. Bullhead sharks belong to this order.

In Taiwan, fishermen often give fish with stripes nicknames associated to tigers.

Wobbegong sharks (Orectolobus maculatus) and leopard sharks (Triakis scyllium) are often referred to as 虎仔鯊 (tiger sharks) by Taiwanese fishermen.

Himantura is a genus of stingrays with spots. They are commonly called leopard rays, but some fishermen give them the nickname of 虎皮魟 (tiger skin ray).

Fish that are big or look fierce also are often given nicknames associated with tigers. Chimaera is one of them. Silver Chimaera (Chimaera phantasma) is nicknamed 白魚虎 ( white fish tiger) in Taiwan.

The Japanese word for tiger is トラ(pronouned tora )。
In Japanese, the family Scyliorhinidae (catsharks) are called the とらざめ科, the tiger shark family.

What about in your language?
May you meet many species of “ tigers” this year!

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