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  Seaweek 2005 - Save Our Sharks - Student Info sheet    
Student Information Sheet 7 - The Grey Nurse Shark
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The grey nurse shark, Carcharias taurus
( © Ken Hoppen,
What do they look like?
Grey nurse sharks generally occur alone or in small schools, with larger groups occurring during courtship and mating. This species can be easily distinguished from other sharks as they have a first and second dorsal fin of almost equal size.

They are generally bronze in colour, with a pale undersurface and have brown spots on the upper body and tail (caudal) fin. The maximum length recorded for a grey nurse was 3.18 metres.


The grey nurse shark showing some outer features.
(© David Harasti)

Where are they found?
The grey nurse shark is found mainly in warm-temperate inshore waters around the main continents of the world. In Australia, grey nurse sharks are restricted to two populations, one on the east coast from southern Queensland to southern New South Wales and the other around the south west coast of Western Australia. It is believed that the east and west coast populations do not interact and research has shown that the populations are genetically different. The grey nurse shark is now considered to be extinct in Victorian waters, although it was recorded there in the past.

What do they eat?
Grey nurse sharks feed on a wide variety of bony fishes, small sharks, rays, squid and sometimes crabs and lobsters. In addition, groups of these sharks can feed by working together to gather schools of fish into tight bunches before feeding on them.



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