NURSE SHARK - Ginglymostoma cirratum
Description: The Nurse Shark is a common inshore
bottom-dwelling shark, found in tropical and subtropical waters on the
continental and insular shelves. It is frequently found at depths of one
meter or less but may occur down to 75 m. Its common habitats are reefs,
channels between mangrove islands and sand flats. Nurse sharks are nocturnal animals, spending the day
hidden under submerged ledges or in crevices within the reef, the nurse sharks seem to prefer specific resting
sites and will return to them each day after the night's hunting. By night, the sharks are largely solitary; they
spend most of their time rifling through the bottom sediments in search of food.
Coloration: Adult nurse sharks generally range from light yellowish tan to dark brown in color. Juveniles up to 23" have small black spots, with an area of lighter pigmentation surrounding each spot, covering the entire body. These are bands of lighter and darker pigmentation along the dorsal surface. Juveniles 28"-48" are capable of limited color changes. In a tank experiment small nurse sharks, covered for just a few minutes became considerably lighter than individuals exposed to full sunlight.
Size: Nurse Sharks can reach a length of 7-9 ft. in total length and weighing 167-267 lbs.
Distribution: Common in the Atlantic and in the eastern Pacific, in coastal tropical and sub-tropical waters. Reported from Senegal to Gabon, Rhode Island to Southern Brazil, and Mexico to Peru. Also, some individuals have been reported in the Gulf of Gascogne in southwest France. This species is locally very common in shallow waters throughout the West Indies, south Florida and the Florida Keys.