PORT PHILLIP BAY


Grey Nurse Shark 

Carcharias taurus Rafinesque, 1810

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Meristics.
Vertebrae: 156-186 (precaudal 80-97)
Jaw teeth (upper): 16 to 17-1-13:3-1-16 or 17
Jaw teeth (lower): 15 to 17-3-1:1-3-15 to 17

Additional information in:
Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) (2008) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Order level detail.
A diverse group that includes a number of highly specialised sharks, including the Goblin Shark, the Basking Shark, the Megamouth Shark, the White Shark, nurse sharks and thresher sharks. Species are found worldwide in tropical and temperate oceanic and coastal waters. They have two dorsal fins (without spines) and an anal fin, but lack a nictitating membrane on the eye. Most are streamlined, open-water sharks that mostly swim constantly.

Family level detail.
Large sluggish fusiform sharks with two dorsal fins of equal size, an anal fin, an asymmetrical tail, no keels on the tail base and jaws with long, slender teeth. Worldwide in tropical and temperate waters.

Taxonomy

Phylum:
Chordata
Subphylum:
Craniata
Superclass:
Gnathostomata
Class:
Chondrichthyes
Subclass:
Elasmobranchii
Order:
Lamniformes
Family:
Odontaspididae
Genus:
Carcharias
Species:
taurus

General Description

Large, stout shark with a short, flattened bluntly-pointed snout; dorsal, pelvic and anal fins of similar size; jaws with rows of large sharp, slender teeth. Greyish-brown above, paler below, sometimes with scattered spots or blotches. To 3.2 m.

Biology

Slow-swimming sharks that feed on fishes, mostly near the bottom. They are very rare in Victorian waters. In the past, Grey Nurse Sharks were indiscriminately killed, including during the latter half of the nineteenth century in Victoria when a bounty was placed on them. Although considered harmless, Grey Nurse Sharks could attack and should never be provoked.

Habitat

From shallow coastal waters to a depth of 190 m.

Open water

Distribution guide

Around Australia.

Species Group

Sharks and rays Sharks

Depth

Shallow (1-30 m)
Deep ( > 30 m)

Water Column

Midwater

Max Size

3.2 m

Diet

Carnivore

Harmful

Although not usually considered dangerous to humans, has the potential to bite.

Commercial Species

No

Global Dispersal

Native to Australia

Conservation Status

  • DSE Advisory List : Data Deficient
  • EPBC Act 1999 : Vulnerable
  • IUCN Red List : Vulnerable

Author

article author Bray, D.J.

Di Bray is a Senior Collection Manager of ichthyology at Museum Victoria.

Author

article author Gomon, M.F.

Dr. Martin Gomon is a Senior Curator of ichthyology at Museum Victoria.

citation

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Gomon, M.F., 2011, Grey Nurse Shark, Carcharias taurus, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 30 Jun 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/6568

Text: creative commons cc by licence