IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category Year Assessed
Near Threatened Red List Criteria Version
Rosa, R.S., Castro, A.L.F., Furtado, M., Monzini, J. & Grubbs, R.D. Reviewer/s
Kyne, P.M., Cavanagh, R.D. & Musick, J.A. (Shark Red List Authority) Contributor/s Justification
Extreme population reduction (and in some cases localized extinction) of the species from the southern portion of its range in the Western Atlantic has been reported (Rosa 2002). Gadig (1994) noted that the impact of coastal fisheries is the primary cause of the observed decline of Nurse Sharks along the Brazilian coast. Recently it became a target of the commercial aquarium fisheries in Brazil. The species was assessed as Vulnerable in Brazil by a commission of the Brazilian Society for the Study of Elasmobranchs (SBEEL) in 2002, following the application of the IUCN Red List criteria. Its inclusion in the Official List of Endangered Animals in Brazil as a Vulnerable species was recommended to the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment in 2003. The species occurs in some marine parks in Brazil, however, effective management, including policing of these areas is essential. Similar declines are inferred across its range in South America, given heavy fishing pressure on the coastal zone in this region, and although more information is certainly required, the Nurse Shark is assessed as Vulnerable off South America due both to observed and inferred declines from heavy coastal fisheries and habitat destruction. For Central America information is more limited, though coastal fisheries are known to be intense in many areas as is habitat destruction. Nurse Sharks are actively targeted for fins and meat by artisanal fishers in Panama with lines and gillnets, here, juveniles are also collected for the aquarium trade. Fished by artisanal fishers for their skin and meat along the Colombian coast with nets and lines, the Colombian government is in fact considering a ban on the G. cirratum fishery together with an extensive habitat protection campaign. Nurse sharks are managed as part of the Large Coastal Species complex in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters of the US. They represent only about 2% of the sharks captured in the directed bottom longline fishery (NMFS 2003). They are of very low economic value in the US and are rarely retained with very high post-capture survivorship. In addition, a fishery independent survey in Bimini, Bahamas suggested an increase in Nurse Shark CPUE between 1995-2004 (Gruber and Grubbs unpublished data). The species is therefore assessed as Least Concern in the US NW Atlantic and Bahamas. The overall assessment for the Western Atlantic subpopulation is therefore Near Threatened, this is based on its Vulnerable status off South America, the likelihood of threats to the species throughout many areas of Central America and the Caribbean, and its Least Concern status off the US and Bahamas.