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This is one of our favorite sharks, so we are really excited to share the June shark of the month with you…. drum roll please…
The Nurse Shark Ginglymostoma cirratuym
The nurse shark has a broad head and their first and second dorsal fins are rounded (the first larger than then second) as is their pectoral fins! In addition, the caudal fin is elongated and can typically be up to ¼ of their body length. Between the shark’s nares they have relatively long barbels used for sensing! Their coloration can vary from a yellow-brown to grey-brown with and can be observed with our without black spots. These sharks can grow up to 3.08 m in total length!
The species are found in tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Oceans! Being a nocturnal species, the nurse shark is typically found at inshore areas less than 1 m deep where individuals can hide and rest throughout the day, however can be found as deep as 75 m! The nurse shark is also found in groups, which can consist of more than 20 individuals (no more than 40).
Typically, their diet consists of bottom dwelling organisms such as crustaceans, bivalves, sea urchins, and stingrays however their diet can be varied and also include mullets and octopus! They have very strong suction and can even suck a conch out of the shell!
The nurse shark is currently listed as data deficient deficient on the IUCN Red List of the Threatened Species
This species is either actively targeted or caught as bycatch in many parts of South America for meat, salts and fins. Additionally, in the Caribbean they are harvested for their hides and in the landed as bycatch in longline fisheries along the U.S coast (however are most often released when this occurs). With the increase in pollutants from terrestrial sources, increased nutrients run the risk of negatively impacting key habitats of the species.