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Greynurse shark

Greynurse Shark

Scientific name

Carcharias taurus

Status in NSW

Critically endangered.


The Grey Nurse Shark, also known as the sand tiger shark or spotted ragged-tooth shark, has a large, stout body tapered at each end, a pointed snout and small eyes. The upper surface of Greynurse Sharks is bronze coloured, and the underside is pale white. Juveniles often have dark spots on the lower half of the body and the caudal (tail) fin. These spots fade as the shark becomes larger, but sometimes persist on adults. They have two distinctive large dorsal (top) fins of similar size. The first dorsal fin is set well back from the pectoral (side) fins. The anal fin is similar in size to both dorsal fins. The mouth extends beyond the front of the eye, and has long, protruding teeth.

How to identify a Greynurse Shark

Species similar in appearance

Whaler Sharks.


Greynurse Sharks are born at around 1 metre and can grow to a maximum length of 3.2m.


The Australian east coast population of Greynurse Sharks aggregate at, and migrate between a number of key sites along the coast of NSW and southern Queensland from Montague Island in the south to Fraser Island in the north.

A Greynurse Shark_D Harasti A Greynurse Shark_D Harasti


Greynurse Sharks are predominantly found in inshore coastal waters. They are likely to be seen to cruising around sandy bottoms and rocky caves, and close to reefs and islands. They have been recorded at depths up to 232 metres, but spend most of their time in waters less than 40 metres.

Greynurse Sharks congregate at a number of sites along the coast of NSW and southern Queensland, known as "aggregation sites". These sites have rocky reef with gravel or sand filled gutters, overhangs or caves. Greynurse Sharks are known to travel hundreds of kilometres between aggregation sites in short periods of time, returning to the same sites in consecutive years.

Why is the Greynurse Shark threatened?

  • Hook and line fishing in areas important for the survival of threatened species has been identified as a key threatening process affecting Greynurse Sharks
  • Accidental hooking on commercial and recreational fishing gear can result in internal injuries and death
  • Historical declines in numbers due to targeted fishing and hunting
  • Capture in beach safety (shark) mesh nets
  • Illegal capture for sale of the fins
  • The species’ very low potential for population recovery
Two Greynurse Sharks (Photo: D. Harasti)
A Greynurse Shark_D Harasti
A Greynurse Shark_D Harasti
Two Greynurse Sharks (Photo: D. Harasti)
A Greynurse Shark_D Harasti
A Greynurse Shark_D Harasti