The nurse shark has a flattened body and a rounded head with rows of small teeth they use for crushing hard-shelled prey in their powerful jaws.
Nurse sharks do not need to swim in order to breathe. They can pump water over their gills without any motion. When they do move they use large front fins to walk along the ocean floor. Nurse sharks can adapt to the cold water temperatures by becoming even less active but they prefer warmer waters.
No known species prey on nurse sharks although they have been found in the stomach contents of lemon, tiger, bull and hammerhead sharks.
Nurse sharks are nocturnal and hunt for food at night and rest during the daylight hours.
Nurse sharks are popular at most marine life aquariums. They can be seen along the bottom of the tanks resting motionless as they do in the wild.
I have seen many nurse sharks being caught by anglers who first think they have hooked into the bottom of the ocean. As they are holding onto the rod it feels as though whatever is attached to your hook is being dragged across the bottom the ocean’s floor and it is. Nurse sharks will surely give you a workout and are fun to catch.
I remember a charter I was on a few years back with friends of mine from Troy, Mo. The Schmitts, who love to fish, chartered Capt. Tater Spinks aboard the Anejo out of Boca Grande for a shark-fishing adventure. Spinks knows where sharks live and he was confident he would satisfy his clients.
Early into the charter their oldest son, Nathan, hooked a shark. Spinks helped talk Nathan through the battle perfectly and he landed a giant nurse shark he will remember for a lifetime.
The Schmitts took home the filets from the shark and shared it with family and friends. They were always taught if you kill a fish you are to eat it otherwise it is catch-and-release for the Schmitt family.
Nurse sharks typically stay to themselves and do not pose a threat to humans. But they will protect themselves when they feel threatened.
Fact BoxMerry Beth Ryan, a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, can be reached at www.merrybethryanphotography.com, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (941) 544-5023.