Dear Conor Friedersdorf,
Thank you for your email regarding a hypothetical meeting between a Bengal Tiger and a Great White Shark.
I’m sure you’ve considered that your taking a marine creature and having it duel with a terrestrial animal, something that rarely occurs. You asked, “how many inches of water would it take before the shark won.” The first thing you need to do is to establish is the age, which relates to size, of each of the combatants. Is it a juvenile white shark, less than 4 feet in length, which would still need at least 2 – 2.5 feet of water to navigate, or is it an adult that is over 16 feet in length and weighing more than 4,000 pounds?
The adult shark would need at least 6 – 8 feet of water to navigate efficiently. On the other hand, any water depth over 3 feet would probably necessitate the Bengal Tiger swimming, in which case the shark would have the advantage. If the water depth was less than that required for normal swimming behavior by the shark, the tiger would have the advantage. So, I believe it would simply be, the winner would always have Home Field advantage. Water depth more than that required for the appropriately sized Great White Shark, the shark would win. If it were less than that required the Tiger would win.
I hope this has been of some value to you. I appreciate your interest in my research and if I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate in contacting me.
Ralph S. Collier
Shark Research Committee