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NURSE SHARK

Ginglymostoma cirratum

Family: Ginglymostomatidae

Description: enlarged rounded pectoral fins used as appendages to move around the sea bottom and rounded dorsal fins. Caudal fin can be over a quarter of the whole body length and lacks a lower lobe. Has a small mouth with fleshy, sensory projections called barbels and a pharynx (muscular cavity) used to suck in food.

Size: 220 - 270 cm

Weight: 75-110 kg

Sexual maturity: 223 - 231 cm Females, 215 cm Males

Reproduction: ovoviviparous, gestation 6 months, pups 21-50

Average life span: 25 years

Habitat: resting underneath ledges and in caves and crevices during the day. Described as a nocturnal species often seen lying on top of each other in large groups during the day. 

Distribution: found in the Atlantic and the Eastern Pacific in tropical and subtropical waters. Common in shallow waters of the West Indies, South Florida and Florida Keys.

Diet: fish, molluscs and crustaceans

Status: data deficient

Human pressure: liver oil used as fuel and by commercial sponge fishers, skin used as leather