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Tawny Nurse Shark (Nebrius ferrugineus)

Tawny Nurse Shark (Nebrius ferrugineus)

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Order: Orectolobiformes
Family: Ginglymostomatidae
Genus: Nebrius
Species: ferrugineus
Taxonomic name: Nebrius ferrugineus

The Tawny Nurse Shark (Nebrius ferrugineus) is a common shark species in tropical waters. Coloured grey to sandy brown, it can change its tone slightly depending on the colour of its environment, an ability that other sharks, like the Port Jackson, also have. This is a large shark, growing from a length of 40 cm at birth to reach over three metres. Its broad, flattened head with squarish snout, tiny eyes and large fins make it a distinctive animal. At a casual glance it may be confused with the notorious Tiger Shark but the long tail and large dorsal fins set well towards the rear define this docile species.

The Tawny Nurse Shark's common name is derived from its ability to suck up prey using a powerful sucking motion with its throat, just like a baby being nursed. This talent is used to vacuum out octopus, fish and crabs from the reef or it can be reversed to fire a jet of water at any captor.

The Tawny Nurse Shark (Nebrius ferrugineus) is found in the Pacific and the Atlantic Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) in the Atlantic.