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 Tawny nurse shark (Nebrius ferrugineus)

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Tawny nurse shark
© Doug Perrine / SeaPics
 Range Map

Earth Map


Phylum: Vertebates (Chordata)

Class: Carlilagenous Fishes (Chondrichthyes)
  Order: Carpetsharks (Orectolobiformes)
    Family: Nurse sharks (Ginglymostomatidae)
      Genus: Nebrius (Nebrius)


Scientific: Nebrius ferrugineus
German: Gewöhnlicher Ammenhai
English: Tawny nurse shark, Madame X, Spitting shark, Giant sleepy shark
French: Requin nourrice fauve
Spanish: Gata nodriza atezada


Typical shape of a nurse shark. Large. Mouth ahead of the eyes with moderately long barbels present. Two angular dorsal fins. Frist dorsal fin is much larger than second one. Base of first dorsal fin is opposite of the pelvic fin bases. Pectoral fins falcate. Spiracles present.


From tan to dark grey-brown according to habitat.


Western Indian Ocean: South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Red Sea, India, Maldives. Western Pacific: Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, New Guinea, Australia, Samoa, Palau, Tahiti and Marshall Islands.


Inshore shark, from intertidal waters down to at least 70 m. Lives close to or at the bottom in lagoons or along outer edges of coral reefs and rocky areas. Like other nurse sharks this species prefers sheltered areas like crevices and caves. Primarily nocturnal, cruising slowly during the night and resting during daytime in shelters. Some may be active during daylight too. This species and other nurse sharks are gregarious and can form resting aggregations.


Feeds on crabs, squids, octopi, corals (polyps), sea urchins and fishes.


Maximum total length about 320 cm, average size between 200 cm and 250 cm.


Aplacental viviparous (ovoviviparous). Size at birth about 40 cm.

 Similar Species

Can be mistaken for the Nurse shark that species has pointed pectoral fins.


Status in the IUCN Red List(Version 2001):

Main criterion: > VU (Vulnerable)
Sub criterion: A2abcd A3cd Aabcd
Trend: Declining

 Danger to Humans

Harmless, but accidents have happened due to harassment of divers.

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