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Nurse Shark

Ginglymostoma cirratum


Illustration of a nurse shark showing important characteristics
  • Very blunt mouth with nasal barbels on each side
  • Eyes very small
  • Brown to yellow-brown above, lighter below (juveniles often have black spots)
  • Broadly rounded dorsal and anal fins
  • First and second dorsal fins are similar in size
  • First dorsal fin begins well behind pectoral fins
  • No distinct lower lobe of caudal fin
  • No interdorsal ridge

Similar Species: Lemon shark, N. brevirostris (lacks nasal barbels) 

Size: Up to 9 feet 


Coastal and nearshore waters; often seen lying motionless on the bottom


Feed on fishes and bottom-dwelling invertebrates

Additional Information

Recreational Regulations


Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles