Grey Nurse Shark

© Jean Tresfon

Common family name

Common family name

Others in family

Sand shark, Grey nurse shark, Dogfish shark, Spotted ragged-tooth shark

Scientific name

Carcharias taurus


Up to 3,2 m, average 2,5 m.


Big pointy snout with visibly spiked teeth. Smallish dorsal fin. Dark blotches on brown-grey skin. Solid body with two dorsal fins. Caudal fin has prominent subterminal notch.

General Information

Odontaspididae family consists of 2 genera and 4 species. Listed as vulnerable. The only shark known to gulp air and store it in the stomach to maintain neutral buoyancy. Migratory species. Found single or in large schools on reefs. Passive and slow moving, but can be aggressive when provoked. Weighs up to 160kg. Ovoviviparous. Young born fully developed. Uterine cannibalism occurs. Usually two pups are born.


Feeds mostly on bony fish, but also small sharks, rays, squid, crabs and lobsters.


Occurs in all temperate and tropical oceans of the world.

© Johan Boshoff