NURSE SHARK

Ginglymostoma cirratum
Family: Ginglymostomatidae

Description: Adults are yellow- to grey- brown in color. Mouth area includes long barbels and nasal grooves, located in front of dorsolateral eyes. Tiny spiracles located behind eyes. Broadly rounded dorsal fins, first dorsal located close to second dorsal fin. Caudal fin consists of only dorsal lobe and makes up 25% of total body length. Small gill slits, 5th almost over laps 4th.

Distribution and Habitat: Widely distributed in tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic ocean. In the western Atlantic it ranges from North Carolina (USA) to southern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean sea. Occurs in the eastern Atlantic from Morocco to Angola. Found on Rocky and coral reefs, channels between mangrove keys and sand flats on continental and insular shelves. Found at depths of 0-130 meters.

Size: Maximum size recorded at 308 cm total length. Size at birth around 30 cm total length.

Reproduction: Viviparous form of reproduction. Litter size is around 20-30 pups after a gestation period of 5-6 months. Broods are born biennially in late-spring to summer. Males reach sexual maturity at 210 cm total length; Females mature between 230 and 240 cm total length.

Life span: 35 years.

Diet: bottom dwelling fish and some benthic invertebrates such as lobster or queen conch. Their specialized mouth equipped with powerful suction and crushing plate is used to invertebrates them from their shells.

Status: Vulnerable as of July 2019.

Human pressures: Targeted or caught as bycatch in commercial, artisanal and recreational fisheries on longlines, gillnets, trawls, and beach seines. Vulnerable to overexploitation in unmanaged fisheries. Human impacts causing habitat degradation on coral reefs, seagrass beds, or mangrove removal also poses threats to the Atlantic nurse shark population.

NURSE SHARK