Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

During the day the nurse shark is a sluggish animal, spending most of its time resting on sandy bottoms, or in crevices in rocks and coral reefs. Often several nurse sharks may congregate when resting, sometimes even piling on top of one another (2). At night however, the nurse shark actively roams the sea bottom and reef for prey. It feeds on bottom invertebrates such as spiny lobsters, shrimps, crabs, sea urchins, squid and octopi (2). It is also feeds on fish, its nocturnal nature enabling it to prey on resting fish that would be too active during the day to capture (2). The nurse shark's small mouth and large pharynx enable it to feed by a unique suction method, effectively making the nurse shark the 'hoover' of the ocean floor. By cupping its mouth over a hole or crevice and expanding its throat, it creates a vacuum that sucks prey out of their hiding (4). This suction-feeding is also useful for extracting snails from their shells (2), and it will dig in sand to root out prey sensed by its fleshy barbels (2). The nurse shark is one of few sharks in which courtship behaviour is relatively well known (4). The male swims alongside the female, grabs one of the pectoral fins in his mouth, rolls her over and they mate (4). A large number of males will often try to mate with a single female, and females often bear numerous bite-scars and bruises received during mating attempts. It is therefore not surprising that females frequently try to avoid males by swimming in very shallow water, where they can bury their pectoral fins in the sand (5). Nurse sharks are ovoviviparous (2), a method of reproduction whereby the young develop inside a weakly-formed egg shell within the mother, receiving nourishment from their yolk sac, for five to six months (2). The females move to shallow seagrass beds and coral reefs to give birth to 20 to 30 pups in late spring and summer (2). Like many sharks the nurse shark is slow growing, with males not reaching maturity until 10 to 15 years of age, and females 15 to 20 years (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Description

The strange looking nurse shark is not the heavy, fearsome fish we normally expect a shark to look like. Its long, flexible body is yellowish-brown to grey-brown, with two spineless, rounded dorsal fins and a long tail fin that can be over a quarter of the whole body length (2). The large, rounded pectoral fins are flexible and muscular, and can be used as limbs to clamber along the sea bottom (2). The head is broad and flat, with small jaws housing small teeth (3) and fleshy, sensory projections (barbels) hang down by its mouth (2). It is not entirely clear where the nurse shark got its strange name from, perhaps from the ancient English name for a dogfish, 'huss' (4). More suitable is its scientific name which translates in Latin as 'the shark with the flexible curly mouth' (4).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Comprehensive Description

Description

  Common names: shark (English), tiburón (Espanol), gata (Espanol)
 
Ginglymostoma cirratum (Bonnaterre, 1788)


Nurse shark


A large shark with a broad flattened rounded head; eyes small, oval; a pair of barbels below snout; grooves present between nostrils and mouth; mouth below, with multi-pointed teeth; 5 gill slits, last 2 close together and over pectoral;  two dorsal fins of similar size; tail fin moderately long, about one-third of TL, with almost no lower lobe.



Yellow brown to grey brown; young with small dark spots and obscure saddle markings on back.

Size: to ~ 300 (possibly 430) cm

Lives around reefs, mangroves, and sand flats

Depth range 0-130 m

From southern Baja and the Gulf of California to Peru, Malpelo; also on both sides of the Atlantic ocean.   
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific online information system. www.stri.org/sftep

Source: Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific Online Information System

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Biology

Found on continental and insular shelves. Solitary (Ref. 26340) and sluggish fish, often encountered lying on the bottom (Ref. 9987). Nocturnal, feeding on bottom invertebrates such as spiny lobsters, shrimps, crabs, sea urchins, squids, octopi, snails and bivalves, and fishes like catfishes, mullets, puffers and stingrays. Ovoviviparous with 21 to 28 young in a litter (Ref. 9987, 43278). Kept in captivity for researches. May attack humans if they are molested or stepped upon accidentally. Edible, but mainly valued for its hide, which makes extremely tough and durable leather (Ref. 9987). Common over shallow sand flats, in channels, and around coral reefs; young may be found among prop roots of red mangroves (Ref. 26938).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© FishBase

Source: FishBase

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

Western Atlantic: Rhode Island, USA to southern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and Carribean, Antilles
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© WoRMS for SMEBD

Source: World Register of Marine Species

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Range Description

Western Atlantic: Rhode Island, USA to southern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and the Antilles.

Eastern Atlantic: Cape Verde to Gabon; accidental to France.

Eastern Pacific: Gulf of California and southern Baja California, Mexico to Peru.

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). The species is no longer found in the southern portion of its Brazilian range, being declared locally extinct in Rio de Janeiro Municipality (Rio de Janeiro 2000).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Zoogeography

See Map (including site records) of Distribution in the Tropical Eastern Pacific 
 
Global Endemism: All species, TEP non-endemic, East Pacific + Atlantic (East +/or West), Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America), East Pacific + all Atlantic (East+West)

Regional Endemism: All species, Eastern Pacific non-endemic, Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic, Continent + Island (s), Continent, Island (s)

Residency: Resident

Climate Zone: Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap), Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos), Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo), South Temperate (Peruvian Province )
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific online information system. www.stri.org/sftep

Source: Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific Online Information System

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Western Atlantic: Rhode Island, USA to southern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, Antilles. Eastern Atlantic: Cape Verde to Gabon; accidental to France. Eastern Pacific: Gulf of California and southern Baja California, Mexico to Peru. Closely related species are found in the Indian Ocean.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© FishBase

Source: FishBase

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Geographic Range

Nurse sharks live in warm waters. They range from the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Eastern and Western Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean.

Biogeographic Regions: indian ocean (Native ); atlantic ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native )

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Tropical and subtropical eastern and western Atlantic, and Eastern Pacific.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© FishWise Professional

Source: FishWise Professional

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Depth

Depth Range (m): 1 (S) - 130 (S)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific online information system. www.stri.org/sftep

Source: Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific Online Information System

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Range

Occurs in the Western Atlantic, from Rhode Island in the United States to southern Brazil; the Eastern Atlantic, from the Cape Verde islands to Gabon; and the Eastern Pacific, from the Gulf of California to Peru (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© FishBase

Source: FishBase

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Nurse sharks range in length from about 75 centimeters for the short tail nurse shark to 4 meters in length for the other types of nurse sharks. The average weight of a 240 centimeter long nurse shark is 330 pounds. They are generally dark in color or have dark scattered spots along their bodies. They have broad heads, no grooves around the outer edge of their nostrils, and relatively fat or stout bodies and tails. Their anal fins are slightly behind their second dorsal fins and just in front of their caudal fins. Anal fins are absent in some families of sharks.

Average mass: 60280 g.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Size

Length max (cm): 430.0 (S)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific online information system. www.stri.org/sftep

Source: Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific Online Information System

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Size

Maximum size: 4300 mm TL
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© FishWise Professional

Source: FishWise Professional

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Max. size

430 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 247)); max. published weight: 109.6 kg (Ref. 40637); max. reported age: 25 years (Ref. 72467)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© FishBase

Source: FishBase

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Diagnostic Description

Moderately long barbels, nasoral grooves present but no perinasal grooves, mouth well in front of eyes, spiracles minute, precaudal tail shorter than head and body, dorsal fins broadly rounded (the first much larger than the second and anal fins), caudal fin moderately long, over 1/4 of total length, yellow-brown to grey-brown in color, with or without small dark spots and obscure dorsal saddle markings (Ref. 247). Head blunt, mouth inferior, pair of conspicuous barbels between nostrils (Ref. 26938).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© FishBase

Source: FishBase

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

benthic
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© WoRMS for SMEBD

Source: World Register of Marine Species

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
A coastal shark found in tropical and subtropical waters of continental and insular shelves, often near patch reefs, both coralline and rocky, where it hides and rests during day hours (Cervigón and Alcalá 1999, Compagno 2001). Found from depths of 1m or less down to 130 m (Compagno 2001). Activity is more intense at night (Compagno 2001), but strong swimming in adults also occurs during the day (R. Rosa pers. obs. in Atol das Rocas). Fidelity to day resting sites such as caves and crevices, has been reported in the literature, as well as an aggregation behavior in such sites (Castro 2000a, Castro 2000b, Compagno 2001). Group behavior related to sexual activity is also reported in the literature (Carrier et al. 1994).

Size at birth is from 27 to 30 cm TL. Females attain maturity at 223 to 231 cm TL (Castro 2000b) or 230 to 240 cm TL (Compagno 2001) and males mature at 210 cm TL (Compagno 2001) or 214 cm TL (Castro 2000b). Maximum cited total lengths exceeding 450 cm TL are possibly greatly exaggerated (Castro 2000b). The largest reliably reported specimen was 308 cm TL (Compagno 2001).

Reproduction is aplacental viviparous, the retained eggs possessing a large amount of yolk (Compagno 2001). Number of intrauterine eggs 20 to 30, gestation period from five to six months, and reproduction occurs every other year (Compagno 2001). Brood sizes up to 50 young were reported by Castro (2000b), with a mean number of 34. Age at maturity estimated to be 10 to 15 years (males) and 15 to 20 years (females) (Carrier 1991, Carrier and Luer 1999, Compagno 2001).

Diet studies based on examination of stomach contents indicate small teleosts, cephalopods, gastropods, bivalves, sea urchins and crustaceans as the main prey items. Pieces of coral debris and algae occasionally occur in the stomachs (Castro 2000b, Compagno 2001). Such data indicate that the nurse shark is an opportunistic benthic predator.

Life history parameters
Age at maturity: Female: 15 to 20 years; Male: 10 to 15 years.
Size at maturity (total length): Female: 223 to 231 cm TL or 230 to 240 cm TL; Male: 210 to 214 cm TL.
Longevity (years): Unknown.
Maximum size (total length): 450 cm TL? Reliably 308 cm TL.
Size at birth: 27 to 30 cm TL.
Average reproductive age (years): Unknown.
Gestation time: 5 to 6 months.
Reproductive periodicity: Biennial.
Average annual fecundity or litter size: Average: 34 pups/litter.
Annual rate of population increase: Unknown.
Natural mortality: Unknown.

Systems
  • Marine
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Environment

reef-associated; brackish; marine; depth range 0 - 130 m (Ref. 43278), usually 1 - 35 m (Ref. 40849)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© FishBase

Source: FishBase

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Nurse sharks live off of sandy beaches, mud and sand flats, and from the intertidal zone on coral and rocky reefs to depths of 70 meters.

Aquatic Biomes: benthic ; reef ; coastal

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Depth range based on 43 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 11 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0.4 - 1814
  Temperature range (°C): 19.601 - 27.421
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.290 - 5.739
  Salinity (PPS): 35.023 - 37.096
  Oxygen (ml/l): 3.774 - 4.899
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.081 - 0.543
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.942 - 4.062

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0.4 - 1814

Temperature range (°C): 19.601 - 27.421

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.290 - 5.739

Salinity (PPS): 35.023 - 37.096

Oxygen (ml/l): 3.774 - 4.899

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.081 - 0.543

Silicate (umol/l): 0.942 - 4.062
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Depth: 0 - 100m.
Recorded at 100 meters.

Habitat: reef-associated.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© FishWise Professional

Source: FishWise Professional

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Salinity: Marine, Brackish

Inshore/Offshore: Inshore, Inshore Only

Water Column Position: Bottom, Bottom only

Habitat: Reef (rock &/or coral), Rocks, Reef and soft bottom, Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom), Soft bottom (mud, sand,gravel, beach, estuary & mangrove), Sand & gravel

FishBase Habitat: Reef Associated
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific online information system. www.stri.org/sftep

Source: Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific Online Information System

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

The nurse shark inhabits inshore tropical and subtropical waters, where it is found at depths of less than one meter down to 130 metres (2). It is frequently found on rocky and coral reefs, and in channels between mangroves keys and sand flats (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Trophic Strategy

Common over shallow sand flats, in channels, and around coral reefs; Young may be found among prop roots of red mangroves (Ref. 26938). Found on continental and insular shelves. A solitary (Ref. 26340) and sluggish fish, often encountered lying on the bottom (Ref. 9987). Nocturnal, feeding on bottom invertebrates such as spiny lobsters, shrimps, crabs, sea urchins, squids, octopi, snails and bivalves, and fishes like catfishes, mullets, puffers and stingrays. Algae is occasionally found in its stomach. This species feeds by sucking in food at high speed through its small mouth and large, bellows-like pharynx. It feeds on big, heavy-shelled conchs by flipping them over and extracting the snail from its shell, presumably with its teeth and by suction. Carnivore (Ref. 57616).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© FishBase

Partner Web Site: FishBase

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Food Habits

Nurse sharks eat a variety of foods. Their diet includes small fishes, shrimps, octopus, sea snails, crabs, lobsters, squid, sea urchin, and corals.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Feeding

Feeding Group: Carnivore

Diet: mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs), mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves, octopus/squid/cuttlefish, sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins, bony fishes
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific online information system. www.stri.org/sftep

Source: Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific Online Information System

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Ovoviviparous, with 21 to 28 young in a litter. Development of young in the uterus being sustained by a large supply of yolk. Females give birth in late spring and summer in waters off Florida. During courtship, a pair sometimes a triplet of adults engaged in synchronized parallel swimming. While on it, the male may grab one of the female's pectoral fins with his mouth which induces the female to pivot 90° and roll on her back on the bottom. Then the male inserts a clasper in her vent, and then roll on his back beside the female. Pair may break apart and depart rapidly after copulation or the male may remain motionless on the subtrate as if recovering from the mating bout (Ref. 49562). Not all attempts of males to copulate with a female nurse shark result in successful fertilization, females may employ avoidance by 'pivotting and rolling' to escape from male attention (Ref. 49562). Or females may 'lie on back' and rest motionless and rigidly on the substrate (Ref. 51113, 49562). On the contrary, females send signals of readiness to copulate with males by arching their body toward their male partner and cupping the pelvic fin (Ref. 51126, 49562). Male nurse sharks may mate with many females over several weeks (polygyny) and vice versa (polyandry) (Ref. 49562). Also Ref. 205.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© FishBase

Source: FishBase

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
25.0 years.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 25 years (wild)
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Joao Pedro de Magalhaes

Source: AnAge

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Reproduction

Very little is known about most shark mating rituals, and the same holds true for the Nurse shark. The Atlantic Nurse shark has been observed mating on the ocean floor. In general, the male inseminates the female with his claspers (these are located between the male's pelvic fins). During mating he turns his claspers foward and inserts one into the female and transfers his sperm. Nurse sharks can be either oviparous or ovoviparous. In oviparous organisms the eggs develop and hatch on the outside of the body. The pups, as baby sharks are called, hatch out of a leathery protective covering with the yolk attached and stay on the ocean floor until they fully mature. In ovoviparous creatures the eggs develop on the inside of the body and hatch within or immediately after extrusion by the parent. The yolk of these pups are hatched inside the uterus before the pups are developed, and they too have leathery eggs. These sharks have from 20-30 pups at a time. Nurse sharks grow about 13 centimeters in length and 2-3 kilograms a year. They do not reach sexually maturity until they are from 15 to 20 years old.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Egg Type: Live birth, No pelagic larva
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific online information system. www.stri.org/sftep

Source: Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific Online Information System

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Sharp teeth always available: nurse sharks
 

The teeth of nurse sharks are always sharp and effective because new rows of teeth develop constantly to replace older, worn down teeth.

       
  "Seen at close quarters, a nurse shark reveals a formidable array of backward-curving teeth. Sharks are relatively primitive fish, their skeletons, and hence their jaws, being made of cartilage rather than bone…This nurse shark has three rows of teeth in use at a time. As they grow, they slowly move forwards and eventually drop out -- they are probably in use for one or two weeks. But there are always rows of teeth developing behind to replace them. These teeth are larger than the ones currently in use, to keep pace with the shark's growth. It has been estimated that, over a period of ten years, some sharks produce, use and shed about 24,000 teeth." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:87)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Foy, Sally; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© The Biomimicry Institute

Source: AskNature

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ginglymostoma cirratum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
DD
Data Deficient

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2006

Assessor/s
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
Despite its wide distribution in the tropical Atlantic and Eastern Pacific oceans, virtually nothing is known about the migratory behavior and connectivity (gene flow) between populations of Ginglymostoma cirratum. Preliminary studies on its biology indicate a strong site fidelity, which renders this shark vulnerable to local extirpation from overexploitation (Compagno 2001). There is recent qualitative evidence of population declines in several areas as well as decline and fragmentation of geographic range size. The species is extremely vulnerable to coastal fisheries, being incidentally and deliberately captured both in gillnets and longlines. It is an easy target of spear fishing due to its sedentary and docile behaviour, being prized in competitions for its large body size. The nurse shark is also vulnerable to indirect coastal impacts, particularly in reef areas, which constitute its main habitat. Due to the lack of data from its range in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, and a need for further investigation on this species in these areas, the species is currently assessed as Data Deficient globally.

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 (for further information, see assessment for Ginglymostoma cirratum (Western Atlantic subpopulation)).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

At present, Nurse sharks have no special conservation status. They are sought out for crab trap bait and for sport fishing, however, and their reproductive rate is relatively slow. This suggests that their populations bear watching.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

IUCN Red List: Listed, Data deficient

CITES: Not listed
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific online information system. www.stri.org/sftep

Source: Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific Online Information System

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Status

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) by the IUCN Red List. The Western Atlantic subpopulation is classified as Near Threatened (NT) (1).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Population

Population
Population size in Atol das Rocas, Brazil was estimated in 368 individuals (SD = 68), with Petersen-Bailey estimator, and 339 individuals (SD = 95) with Jolly-Seber estimator (Castro 2000a, Castro and Rosa 2005). This population is protected in a biological reserve. Other protected populations in Brazil include those of Marine State Park of Parcel Manuel Luiz (Maranhão State), Marine State Park of Risca do Meio (Ceará State), National Marine Park of Fernando de Noronha (Pernambuco State) and National Marine Park of Abrolhos (Bahia State).

Glover?s Atol, Belize: Nurse Sharks are the most common elasmobranch on this offshore atol. They made up 68% of the elasmobranch catch in a fishery independent shark survey conducted in 2000 (Grubbs et al. 2000).

Population Trend
Unknown
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Threats

Major Threats
Although edible, the nurse shark is not usually prized as market food. In Brazil the Nurse Shark is consumed locally by fishermen, who incidentally or actively capture the species. In Venezuela it is marketed salt dried (Cervigón and Alcalá 1999). Major threats include incidental and deliberate capture in coastal fisheries, spear fishing and capture for the ornamental fish trade, and indirectly, the impacts on the coastal zone, particularly on reef areas which constitute its preferred habitat. Human impacts (including pollution), increases in nutrient loading as a result of run-off after deforestation, and disturbance from tourism are all detrimental to this species' shallow reef habitat. Actively targeted by Panamanian artisanal fishers with lines and gillnets. Fished by artisanal fishers along the Colombian coast with nets and lines. Nurse sharks are also harvested in parts of the Caribbean for their skin.

In the United States, they are occasionally captured in the bottom longline fishery, however, nearly all are released and post-release survivorship is high.

Utilisation
Nurse Sharks are fished in Panama for their fins and meat (US$ 0.75 per Lb) (Monzini 2004). In Colombia nurse sharks are mostly targetted for the skin while meat is usually transformed into animal food (Cervigon et al. 1999). In Panama, juveniles are also collected for public and private aquarium (Monzini 2004).

Information on trade and utilization is lacking from other parts of the species? range.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Data deficient (DD)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© FishBase

Source: FishBase

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Nurse sharks are commonly caught in small-scale local fisheries in some parts of its range, and are incidentally captured in many coastal fisheries (1) (2). Its tough, thick hide makes good leather, the flesh is consumed by humans and used for fishmeal, and oil is extracted from the liver (2). The nurse shark is also captured for the aquarium trade, and is occasionally the target of spear fishermen (1). As the nurse shark grows slowly and matures late, this exploitation can cause populations to decline rapidly and recover slowly (6). The threat of overexploitation is compounded by the impact of humans on the coastal and reef habitats of the nurse shark (1) (6). Coral reefs are a particularly vulnerable habitat, being impacted by pollution, sedimentation, global climate change and disturbance from tourism (1). Extreme population reductions have already been recorded in the southern Western Atlantic, and it is possible that the nurse shark is declining, unnoticed, in other areas where there is a lack of data (1). For this reason, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has classified the nurse shark as Data Deficient (1).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Nurse Sharks are managed as part of the Large Coastal Species complex in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters of the United States.

The Colombian government is considering a ban on the G. cirratum fishery together with an extensive habitat protection campaign (Mejia et al. 2002).

The species was listed as Vulnerable in São Paulo State (Brazil) by participants at a workshop organized by the State Secretary of the Environment (SEMA/SP) using IUCN criteria. (São Paulo 1998), and later assessed as Vulnerable in Brazil by a commission of the Brazilian Society for the Study of Elasmobranchs (SBEEL) in 2002, also using 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.

Conservation measures should include:

Establishment of no fishing marine conservation units, encompassing reef formations, which include mating and breeding grounds; regulation of spear-fishing activity, both commercial and sporting, with restriction of capture; regulation of the marine ornamental fish trade, with restriction of capture; bycatch control, with mandatory release of live by-caught individuals; and, development and effective implementation of management plans (national and/or regional e.g., under the FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks: IPOA-Sharks) in order to facilitate the conservation and sustainable management of all chondrichthyan species in the region. See Anon. (2004) for an update of progress made by nations in the range of G. cirratum.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

The nurse shark is included as a Vulnerable species in the Official List of Endangered Animals in Brazil, fisheries are managed within United States' waters, and the Colombian government is considering a ban on the nurse shark fishery along with an extensive habitat protection campaign (1). However, in regions outside of the Western Atlantic, the lack of data makes it difficult to assess the status of populations, and subsequently to implement appropriate conservation measures. Measures recommended include the regulation of spear-fishing and the marine ornamental fish trade, compulsory release of incidentally caught sharks, and the establishment of no-fishing areas encompassing mating and breeding grounds (1). Countries should be motivated to take action to prevent over-fishing of the nurse shark as it is likely to be far more valuable alive for dive-tourism than as fisheries products (6).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: public aquariums; price category: medium; price reliability: reliable: based on ex-vessel price for this species
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© FishBase

Source: FishBase

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Nurse sharks are used in several fishing industries for bait to catch other aquatic animals. They also help control populations of several sea creatures. Scientists are also interested in these sharks because they are easy to find because of their dark color and slow moving nature. Their dark color makes them easier to spot in the water and their slow locomotion makes it easy to catch and tag these sharks, making them a relatively easy anmial to study.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Wikipedia

Nurse shark

Not to be confused with grey nurse shark or tawny nurse shark.

The nurse shark, (Ginglymostoma cirratum), is a shark in the nurse sharks (Ginglymostomatidae) family, the only member of its genus Ginglymostoma. Nurse sharks can reach a length of 4.3 m (14 ft) and a weight of 330 kg (730 lb).[2]

Taxonomy[edit]

The nurse shark family name, Ginglymostomatidae, derives from the Greek: from γίγγλυμος meaning hinge and στόμα meaning mouth. Cirratum also derives from Greek, meaning curl or swim. Based on morphological similarities, Ginglymostoma is believed to be the sister genus of Nebrius, with both being placed in a clade that also contains the short-tail nurse shark (Pseudoginglymostoma brevicaudatum), the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), and the zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum).[3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

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 (246 ft). Its common habitats are reefs, channels between mangrove islands and sand flats. It can be seen in the Western Atlantic from Rhode Island down to southern Brazil; in the Eastern Atlantic from Cameroon to Gabon (and possibly ranges further north and south); in the Eastern Pacific from the southern Baja California to Peru; and around the islands of the Caribbean.[4]

Behavior and diet[edit]

Nurse sharks are nocturnal animals, spending the day in large inactive groups of up to 40 individuals. 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. Their diet consists primarily of crustaceans, molluscs, tunicates, sea snakes, and other fish, particularly stingrays.

They are thought to take advantage of dormant fish which would otherwise be too fast for the sharks to catch; although their small mouths limit the size of prey items, the sharks have large throat cavities which are used as a sort of bellows valve. In this way nurse sharks are able to suck in their prey. Nurse sharks are also known to graze algae and coral.

Nurse sharks have been observed resting on the bottom with their bodies supported on their fins, possibly providing a false shelter for crustaceans which they then ambush and eat.[4]

Nurse sharks are able to respire while stationary by pumping water through their mouths and out gills.

Reproduction[edit]

The mating season runs from late June to the end of July. Nurse sharks are ovoviviparous, meaning the eggs develop and hatch within the body of the female where the hatchlings develop further until live birth occurs. The gestation period is six months, with a typical litter of 21–29 pups.[4] The mating cycle is biennial, as it takes 18 months for the female's ovaries to produce another batch of eggs, during which time, cannibalistic behavior can occur. The young nurse sharks are born fully developed at about 30 cm long in Ginglymostoma cirratum. They possess a spotted coloration which fades with age.

Interaction with humans[edit]

The nurse shark is not widely commercially fished, but because of its sluggish behaviour it is an easy target for local fisheries. Its skin is exceptionally tough and is prized for leather; its flesh is consumed fresh and salted and its liver is utilised for oil. It is not taken as a game fish. It has been reported in some unprovoked attacks on humans but is not generally perceived as a threat. Divers have often provoked the shark, however, by grabbing a motionless specimen by the tail.

Juvenile nurse sharks are sometimes sold in the saltwater aquarium trade.[5] However, since nurse sharks attain lengths in excess of ten feet they are far too large to be kept in home aquaria.[5] In an article for Aquarium Fish Magazine, Scott W. Michael criticizes the ethics of aquarists attempting to keep species beyond their spatial and financial means.[5] He also notes that most public aquaria are not interested in taking specimens that have outgrown home aquaria and that they should never be released into the wild.[5]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera (Chondrichthyes entry)". Bulletins of American Paleontology 364: 560. Retrieved 9 January 2008. 
  2. ^ Nurse Shark National Geographic
  3. ^ Goto, T. (2001). "Comparative Anatomy, Phylogeny and Cladistic Classification of the Order Orectolobiformes (Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchii)". Memoirs of the Graduate School of Fisheries Science, Hokkaido University 48 (1): 1–101. 
  4. ^ a b c Leonard J. V. Compagno (1984). Sharks of the World: An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. pp. 205–207, 555–61, 588. 
  5. ^ a b c d Michael, Scott W. (March 2004). "Sharks at Home". Aquarium Fish Magazine. pp. 20–29. 

Template:Fun times

Further reading[edit]

Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!