Back to Categories

Nurse Shark  - Ginglymostoma cirratum
Photo by FKNMS

Nurse sharks have a gray to yellow-brown body, two dorsal fins of nearly equal size, two barbels on their upper lip, and a small mouth. They grow to 5-10 feet and live between 12-100 feet deep. Nurse sharks rest during the day and feed primarily during the night. They frequently lie motionless in the sand, but may bite if provoked.

Nurse Shark
(Ginglymostoma cirratum)

Coastal Atlantic and Eastern Pacific: Rhode Island to Southern Brazil, Gulf of Mexico, Western Mexico and Baja California to Peru, West Indies, Southern France

Shallow water to outer reefs

Stingrays, mollusks, crustaceans and small fishes


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
The nurse shark often lies in the sand under ledges or overhangs.

Learn More
- Florida Museum of Natural History