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Grey nurse shark


Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Family: Odontaspidae
Scientific name: Carchairias taurus

A shark up to 3 metres in length and known from a range of habitats. Grey Nurse sharks are pelagic and feed on a range of smaller fish such as Yellow-tail scud. There are several defined aggregation areas such as South West Rocks and other sites used during the breeding season such as Foggy Cave off the NSW coast.

They group together in coastal waters, normally at depths of between 60 and 190 m. Often they will shelter in caves or gutters during the day, and come out at night to feed. During the day they can be quite sluggish, becoming more active at the night. The grey nurse shark is the only shark known to gulp and store air in its stomach to maintain neutral buoyancy while swimming.

It is a predator, eating bony fishes including mackerels, other sharks and rays, squids, crabs and lobsters.

At one time a common shark this animal has suffered heavily from human predation. Current estimates show a depleted population along the East Coast of Australia of just 500 individuals. Efforts are currently being made to have all greynurse breeding sites and aggregation sites declared marine parks. It is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, and as endangered under Queensland's Nature Conservation Act 1992

Although achieving a large size greynurse sharks have a very small gape and are not “man eaters”.


Greynurse at Foggy Cave being observed by MESA members


     Ventral view of a Greynurse at South West Rocks, NSW



Short campaign documentary on the critically endangered Grey Nurse Shark



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