The dorsal side of grey nurse sharks is grey, the underside is a dirty white color. These are stout-bodied sharks with metallic brown or reddish colored spots on the sides. When a grey nurse shark pup is born it is typically between 115 and 150 cm. As they mature, grey nurse sharks can reach 5.5 meters, but an average size is 3.6 meters. Females are generally larger than males. Average weight is from 95 to 110 kg. A distinguishing characteristic of grey nurse sharks is that the anal fin and both dorsal fins are the same size. The tail is heterocercal, with a long, upper lobe and a shorter, lower lobe. These different lobes allow for great movement. The mouth bears razor like teeth and is long and slender, with pointed snout. Their elongated teeth are visible even when the mouth is closed, giving these sharks a menacing appearance. This has led many to believe that these are dangerous sharks, a reputation they don't deserve.
Range mass: 50 to 300 kg.
Average mass: 95-110 kg.
Range length: 6 (high) m.
Average length: 3.6 m.
Range basal metabolic rate: <190 to 311 cm^3 oxygen/hour.
Average basal metabolic rate: 239 cm^3 oxygen/hour.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger
- 2005. "Abyss Scuba Diving" (On-line). Accessed October 05, 2005 at http://teachit.acreekps.vic.edu.au/animals/greynurseshark.htm.
- Bennett, M., C. Bansemer. 2004. "Investigation of grey nurse sharks in Queensland to fulfill action under the recovery plan for grey nurse sharks in Australia regarding impact of divers, and establishment of a photographic database" (On-line pdf). Investigation of grey nurse sharks in Queensland to fulfill action under the recovery plan for grey nurse sharks in Australia regarding impact of divers, and establishment of a photographic database. Accessed November 14, 2005 at http://gov.au/coasts/publications/pubs/grey-nurse-shark-project.pdf.
- Department of the Environment and Heritage, Australia, 1999. "Nurse Sharks" (On-line). Department of the Environment and Heritage, Australia. Accessed October 06, 2006 at http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/species/sharks/greynurse/.
- Hamlett, W. 1999. Sharks, Skates, and Rays. Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins Press.
- Office of Naval Research. Sensory Biology of Sharks, Skates, and Rays. N00014-76-C-0943. Arlington, Va: U.S. Government. 1979.