Nurse Sharks Facts!

Nurse Shark. Photo taken by Joseph Thomas near Ambergris Caye, Belize 11-22-2003, PD Image.

Nurse Sharks Facts!

Nurse Shark. Photo taken by Joseph Thomas near Ambergris Caye, Belize 11-22-2003, PD Image.

Nurse sharks grow to a length of about 14 ft. It is a rather sluggish, bottom-dwelling shark and although large does not attack humans. It has a stout body and a wide head with prominent barbels. Its pectoral fins (the fins on the sides of its body just behind the gills) are muscular and flexible and can be used to help it clamber along the bottom of the sea. Most fish, even sharks, need to be in motion to breath. The nurse shark however, can remain still while resting on the sea floor and facing against the flow of the water by pumping the water through the mouth and gills.


Photo taken by Peppe Cirotti – Universidad de Costa Rica – near Manzanillo, Atlantic Coast of Costa Rica. Image credit: Peppe Cirotti, cc3.0

Nurse shark diets consist of bottom-dwelling animals like fish, squid, shrimp, crabs, sea snails, octopus, lobster, sea urchin and coral. It cannot feed on large prey because it has a small mouth. It feeds by sucking the prey into its mouth. Suction-feeding also helps it to extract prey that is hiding in holes or crevices out of their hiding spot. It can also pull out snails from their shells by sucking. The barbels of the nurse shark help it to detect potential prey.


The female shark gives birth to around 30 pups at a time. Nurse sharks are ovoviviparous – meaning – the pups hatch from eggs within the shark’s body and live babies are born.

Nurse Shark Videos

The YouTube video below contains a playlist of 4 videos about nurse sharks. The list of videos featured is underneath.

These videos are mentioned in the following books:
Sharks Early Readers
25 most Awesome Sharks
The Daily Shark

The Playlist:

  1. Baby nurse shark birth captured on camera by ITV News. Footage of a nurse shark giving birth at Yantai Haichang Whale and Shark Aquarium.
  2. Shark Weekend – Nurse Shark by DiscoveryTV. Lots of great information about the nurse shark.
  3. Grey Nurse Sharks by oceancontent. At Fish Rock Cave (South West Rocks, Australia) a diver gets some great footage of gray nurse sharks.
  4. Sharks In Love by National Geographic. Scientists watch nurse shark females pick which male they’ll mate with.

More Shark Video Pages to Enjoy:
Tiger Sharks, Bull Sharks, Hammerhead, Mako, Great White, Megamouth, Goblin Sharks, Shark Senses, Sharks and Humans, Tonic Immobility, Whale Sharks, Lanternshark, Megalodon, Cookiecutter, Frilled Sharks, Spiny Dogfish, Basking Sharks, Angel Shark, Horn Sharks, Wobbegong, Zebra Shark, Blue Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Reef Sharks, Sand Tiger Shark, Oceanic Whitetip.


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