Ginglymostoma cirratum

(Bonnaterre, 1788)

Nurse shark
Classification: Elasmobranchii Orectolobiformes Ginglymostomatidae

Reference of the original description
Bonnaterre, J.P. (1788)
Ichthyologie. Tableau encyclopédique et méthodique des trois règnes de la nature. Paris, 215 p., pl. A–B + 1–100.

Image of the original description
No image in first description.

Images of the original description (synonym)
Synonyms / new combinations and misspellings
Ginglymostoma aff. cirratum, Ginglymostoma caboverdianum, Ginglymostoma caboverdianus, Ginglymostoma cf. cirratum, Ginglymostoma cirrosum, Ginglymostoma fulvum, Nebrius cirratum, Nebrius cirratus, Scyllium cirrhosum, Squalus argus, Squalus cirratus, Squalus cirrhatus, Squalus punctatus, Squalus punctulatus

Ginglymostoma cirratum
Lectotype: MNHN: A-7654
Ginglymostoma fulvum
Syntype: ZMB: 5508
Squalus argus
Holotype: BMNH: ? (ex Zool. Soc.)
Squalus punctatus
XXXX: No types known;
Squalus punctulatus
XXXX: No types known;

Description :

Citation: Ginglymostoma cirratum (Bonnaterre, 1788): In: Database of modern sharks, rays and chimaeras,, World Wide Web electronic publication, Version 06/2024

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Ginglymostoma cirratum (Bonnaterre, 1788), © Andy Murch Elasmodiver
Common names
deu \(T\) Ammenhai, deu \(T\) Atlantischer Ammenhai, spa Bañay, spa Con barbillas, spa Gata, spa Gata común, spa Gata manchada, spa Gata nodriza, spa Gatas, spa Gullamano, spa Nodriza, spa Pejebobo, spa Pejebodo, spa Tiburón, spa Tiburón de arena, spa Tiburón de barbillas, spa Tiburón gata, spa Tiburón gato, fra \(T\) Requin dormeur, fra \(T\) Requin nourrice, fra \(T\) Requin-nourrice, fra \(T\) Vache de mer, eng Carpet shark, eng Cat shark, eng Dogfish, eng Nurse shark, eng Sand shark, ita Squalo nutrice, por Barroso, por Cação arumaru, por Cação-lixa, por Dormedor, por Lambaru, por Lixa, por Peixe anjo, por Tubarao-ama, por Tubarao-dormedor, por Tubarão-enfermeira, por Tubarão-pajem, por Urumaru

Short Description
Moderately long barbels, nasoral grooves present but no perinasal grooves, mouth well in front of eyes, spiracles minute, precaudal tail shorter than head and body, dorsal fins broadly rounded (the first much larger than the second and anal fins), caudal fin moderately long, over 1/4 of total length, yellow-brown to grey-brown in color, with or without small dark spots and obscure dorsal saddle markings [518]. Head blunt, mouth inferior, pair of conspicuous barbels between nostrils [17659].

Western Atlantic: Rhode Island, USA to southern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, Antilles. Eastern Atlantic: Cape Verde to Gabon; accidental to France. Eastern Pacific: Gulf of California and southern Baja California, Mexico to Peru. Closely related species are found in the Indian Ocean. Source:

Human uses
fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: public aquariums; price category: medium; price reliability: reliable: based on ex-vessel price for this species

Ovoviviparous, with 21 to 28 young in a litter. Development of young in the uterus being sustained by a large supply of yolk. Females give birth in late spring and summer in waters off Florida. During courtship, a pair sometimes a triplet of adults engaged in synchronized parallel swimming. While on it, the male may grab one of the female"quot;s pectoral fins with his mouth which induces the female to pivot 90° and roll on her back on the bottom. Then the male inserts a clasper in her vent, and then roll on his back beside the female. Pair may break apart and depart rapidly after copulation or the male may remain motionless on the subtrate as if recovering from the mating bout (Ref. 49562). Not all attempts of males to copulate with a female nurse shark result in successful fertilization, females may employ avoidance by "quot;pivotting and rolling"quot; to escape from male attention (Ref. 49562). Or females may "quot;lie on back"quot; and rest motionless and rigidly on the substrate (Ref. 51113, 49562). On the contrary, females send signals of readiness to copulate with males by arching their body toward their male partner and cupping the pelvic fin (Ref. 51126, 49562). Male nurse sharks may mate with many females over several weeks (polygyny) and vice versa (polyandry) (Ref. 49562). Also Ref. 205. Common over shallow sand flats, in channels, and around coral reefs; Young may be found among prop roots of red mangroves [17659]. Found on continental and insular shelves. A solitary [20078] and sluggish fish, often encountered lying on the bottom (Ref. 9987). Nocturnal, feeding on bottom invertebrates such as spiny lobsters, shrimps, crabs, sea urchins, squids, octopi, snails and bivalves, and fishes like catfishes, mullets, puffers and stingrays. Algae is occasionally found in its stomach. This species feeds by sucking in food at high speed through its small mouth and large, bellows-like pharynx. It feeds on big, heavy-shelled conchs by flipping them over and extracting the snail from its shell, presumably with its teeth and by suction. Carnivore (Ref. 57616).

Size / Weight / Age
430 cm TL (male/unsexed; [518]); max. published weight: 109.6 kg (Ref. 40637); max. reported age: 25 years (Ref. 72467)

reef-associated; brackish; marine; depth range 0 - 130 m [531], usually 1 - 35 m (Ref. 40849)

Parasites (arranged by Jürgen Pollerspöck)
  • Erpocotyle ginglymostomae (Brooks, 1934) [17150]

  • Euterranova ginglymostomae (Olsen, 1952) [17029]
  • Lockenloia sanguinis Adamson & Caira, 1991 [7593] [31368]
  • Mexiconema cichlasomae Moravec, Vidal & Salgado-Maldonado, 1992 [21483]

  • Rocinela signata Schioedte & Meinert, 1879 [23898]