Grey Nurse Shark

Carcharias taurus

The Grey Nurse Shark is large and fearsome looking but is actually a fish-eater. During certain seasons it occurs in schools (nurseries), in gutters and on coastal reefs. It has a conical snout and two large dorsal fins that are about equal in size. The first dorsal fin is closer to the pelvic than pectoral fins. The teeth are long, slender and slightly curved with a single pair of basal cusps (appearing as ‘snaggle-toothed’). These teeth are perfectly shaped for feeding on schooling fish and are not adapted for attacking and ripping large animals (including humans). These sharks grow to about 3.2 m.  They are popular with diving enthusiasts when they school because they are not aggressive (although they should not be provoked or cornered). However, in the 1950’s and 1960’s they were thought to be responsible for attacks and were hunted. They are now protected throughout Queensland waters although their recovery will be slow given the severe initial culling and their low breeding rate (fecundity), and they are still high on the list of threatened and endangered marine species.

Found in all Australian waters although rare in tropical waters.

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.

Related Links