Family ODONTASPIDIDAE


Common name: Grey Nurse Sharks, Sand Tiger Sharks

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Summary:
Large sharks with two large equal-sized dorsal fins, an anal fin, and an asymmetrical caudal fin with a broad, well-developed upper lobe and a short lower lobe. The five moderately long gill slits are positioned in advance of the pectoral-fin base. The jaw teeth are long and narrow, usually with small basal cusps on each side. They lack lateral keels on the caudal peduncle, and have no nictitating membranes on the eyes.

Nurse or sand tiger sharks are found in coastal waters and on the continental shelf and slope to depths of about 1600 m.

Key to genera of Odontaspididae (after White 2008):

·         Snout short, flattened; upper jaw with 3 rows of large teeth on each side of symphysis; first dorsal fin about as large or slightly larger than second dorsal fin and anal fin, closer to pelvic-fin bases than to pectoral-fin bases .......................................................................... Carcharias

·         Snout long and conical; upper jaw with 2 rows of large teeth on each side of symphysis; first dorsal fin noticeably larger than second dorsal fin and anal fin, closer to pectoral-fin bases than to pelvic-fin bases ………………………………………………………………………………………   Odontaspis




Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Brray, Grey Nurse Sharks, ODONTASPIDIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Oct 2019, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/family/148

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Family Taxonomy

A small family with two widely distributed genera, both found in Australian waters.

Family Distribution

The family is found worldwide in most tropical and warm-temperate seas from shallow inshore waters to about 1600 metres on the continental slope.

Family Description

Large sharks with two large equal-sized dorsal fins without spines, an anal fin, an  asymmetrical caudal fin with a broad, well-developed upper lobe and a short lower lobe, with a precaudal pit on the upper and sometimes on the lower lobe; five moderately long gill slits situated before the pectoral-fin base; long, lanceolate teeth, with small basal cusps on each side in most species.

Family Size

To a maximum length of 3.6 metres.

Family Colour


Family Feeding

Feed mostly on fishes.

Family Reproduction

Nurse sharks are ovoviviparous - the embryos lack a placenta, and develop from eggs. The young are born live after hatching from eggs inside the uterus.

Family Commercial


Family Conservation

One species is protected in parts of its range in Australia.

Family Remarks

Nurse sharks were historically thought to be very dangerous to humans, however few attacks are known.

Family Biology


Author

Dianne J. Brray

Family Resources


References


Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 4(1) pp. 1-249 [219]

Compagno, L.J.V. 2001. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). Rome : FAO, FAO Species Catalogue for Fisheries Purposes No. 1 Vol. 2 269 pp. [64]

Compagno, L.J.V. & Niem, V.H. 1998. Family Odontaspididae. pp. 1264-1267 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 2 687-1396 pp. [1267]

Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp. [176]

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls [146]

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp. [160]

Macbeth, W.G., Vandenberg, M. & Graham, K.J. 2008. Identifying Sharks and Rays; a Guide for Commercial Fishers. Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry 71 pp. [29]

Munro, I.S.R. 1961. Handbook of Australian fishes. Nos 1–42. Australian Fisheries Newsletter 15–17, 19, 20: 1-172 [published as separates 1956–1961] [3] (9, as Carcharias herbsti)

White, W. 2008. Shark Families Heterodontidae to Pristiophoridae. pp. 32-100 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. [35]