On the Man Eater Danger Scale, the Nurse Shark scores a 1. The Nurse Shark will not attack humans when swimming and it will not go out of its way to attack. However, people have been attacked from stepping on them or getting too close.
The Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) is a rather docile creature that spends its life living off the bottom of the ocean floor. It’s teeth, while serrated, are not designed to saw through flesh like that of a blue shark, they are designed to crush shell fish. It is unclear how the Nurse Shark got its name.
Nurse Shark Features and Size
The nurse shark has serrated teeth that are distinct from other sharks. It also has a different body shape suited for living off the bottom of the ocean floor. Unlike other fast moving sharks, the Nurse Shark has a large secondary dorsal fin located close to its tail. The nurse Shark has a flattened head that tappers towards the front.
Most sharks have to continue moving in order to breath. If they were to stop moving or rest on the bottom of the ocean like that Nurse Shark has been known to do, they would suffocate. They are able to breath while stationary sue to a special organ.
In order to breath, the Nurse Shark has evolved a small spiracle, which is located behind its eye. This spiracle takes in water that it uses to remove oxygen so it can breath.
The Nurse Shark is a nightime feeder, resting on the bottom ofthe ocean floor during the dy where it congregates with other Nurse Sharks
The Nurse Shark has soft grey or brown skin. Located at the front of its mouth are small barbels that are used to detect chemical scents in the water it uses to detect prey.
Nurse Shark Distribution
One can be forgiven for thinking that the Nurse Shark is native only to the shores on North and South America.
While a bulk of its population can be found in the coastal waters of the North and South America, they can also be found along the coast of Africa from Senegal to Angola.
The Nurse Shark can also be found in a small stretch of water between Spain and France, though it is not well understood how such a small isolation of Nurse Sharks have managed to survive there.
The Nurse Shark population used to stretch from Africa all the way up the European coast to France but their populations there have been eliminated due to human activities over several thousand years, resulting in a reduction in their distribution, leaving a small pocket of them in Europe.
Nurse Shark Habitat
After seeing the distribution of the Nurse Shark, it should not be a surprise to see that they are not found in deep water. They are found in depths ranging down to 230 feet/70.1 meters.
They prefer mudflats and sandy sea bottoms. They can be found near rocks and boulders if the sea bottom is largely made up of a sandy or muddy bottom.
Man Eater Danger Scale
On the Man Eater Danger Scale, the Nurse Shark scores a 1. The Nurse Shark will not attack humans when swimming and it will not go out of its way to attack. However, people have been attacked from stepping on them or getting too close. As with any animal, be careful of your surroundings when Scuba diving or swimming to prevent an unfortunate attack.