Species Index

Carcharias taurus
(Rafinesque, 1810)

Common Name: Grey Nurse Shark

Distribution: Common in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed in tropical and subtropical waters around the world with the possible exception of the eastern Pacific. In Australia from mid to south Queensland around the southern coasts to north west coast of Western Australia. Not known from Tasmania.

Ecological Notes: Prefers sandy bottomed gutters, reef on and offshore. Usually present in small aggregations. Depth to at least 191 m, usually 15 – 25 m. Occasionally chases schooling fishes into shallows, and along surf beaches.

Additional Notes: Protected in New South Wales waters and present at several aggregation sites in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Recognised by the two large dorsal fins of nearly equal size and small black blotches that are most prominent on juveniles. Has a distinctive mouth with protruding needle like teeth, used for grasping fish prey. Often seen hanging in the current near the bottom, coming into midwater where it feeds on schooling fish species, generally at night. Generally docile and may be closely approached by divers providing not provoked, but has been known to bite swimmers and to be aggressive towards divers with speared fish. Females have two uteri, only one young per uterus at birth as unfertilised eggs and smaller embryos eaten by the largest young. Grows to 3.3 m. See footage of hook removal from male Grey Nurse at Julian Rocks here –

References: R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.22.

FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. Accessed 30/09/2018.