Probably the most easy to recognize of the requiem sharks, the tiger gets its name from dark black spots and vertical bars which run the length of the body. The anterior portion of the body is stout but becomes increasingly slender posterior to the abdomen. The tiger shark has a robust head with large eyes and a very blunt snout. The mouth itself is large with long labial furrows. The broad first dorsal fin originates posterior to the pectoral axil. The much smaller second dorsal fin initiates anterior to the origin of the strongly recurved anal fin. A ridge is present along the back between the dorsal fins. A low longitudinal keel is present on the caudal peduncle and the upper lobe of the caudal fin is long and thin with a subterminal notch.