To see photographs of the Grey Nurse Shark (Carcharias
taurus) click here.
Grey Nurse Shark (Carcharias taurus)
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page are copyright protected: © 2010 Kelvin Aitken.
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personal research only. Not for commercial use.
Taxonomic name: Carcharias taurus
Based purely on its fearsome looks this shark was once blamed for most
shark attacks on humans and was hunted and fished to near extinction.
Today the docile Grey Nurse Shark, or Sand Tiger Shark, enjoys protected status in some Australian
States. It is the first shark in the world to be protected by law.
The small head of the Grey Nurse Shark (Carcharias taurus) with small
glowering eyes and needle-sharp snaggle teeth protruding from a gaping
mouth, is followed by an almost humped back with similar-sized dorsal,
pelvic and anal fins. Its dark grey colour merges into pure white on the
belly with small coin-sized brown spots on the flanks. The face and tail,
with a long upper lobe, distinguish this species from others.
Habitat and Habits
Grey Nurse Sharks can be found from the surface down to 200 m deep around
the entire Australian coastline except for Tasmania. They are normally
seen during the day in sheltered gutters or caves where they hover almost
motionless, a talent made possible by their ability to swallow air at
the surface which counteracts the natural tendancy for all sharks to sink
. These sharks are quite sociable, often gathering together in small to
huge schools of mixed sex and size so closely that they appear to be stacked
like a cord of wood.
Their social and curious nature allows divers to make close contact but
they should never be cornered or harassed as they will bite with lightening
speed if threatened. From a motionless hover they can accelerate instantly
to catch fast-swimming kingfish or salmon, so fast in fact that their
tail creates a cavity in the water causing a deep boom to be heard.