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DON’T Do This on Your Next Dive …

April 14, 2010 | 18,622 views
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Watch as two scuba divers in Florida, one a veterinarian, rescue a nurse shark trapped by a Frisbee.

Dr. Becker's Comments:

Isn’t it amazing the lengths humans will go to to make life better for fellow inhabitants of the planet?

Witnessing acts of kindness like the one in the video is heartwarming.

Now, that’s not to say everyone who encounters a shark in distress should try to intervene! But the diver who removed the ring from the shark in the video also happens to be a veterinarian, which may have made him confident he could help the shark without putting himself in unnecessary danger.

As the CBS interviewer and divers point out, the shark in the video is a nurse shark.

That’s quite a benign sounding name for a species of shark with strong jaws filled with thousands of small, serrated teeth. Actually, nurse sharks are among the most docile creatures in the sea, but are known to bite when provoked.

15 Fascinating Facts About Nurse Sharks

  1. The scientific name for the nurse shark is Ginglymostoma cirratum which means “curled, hinged mouth.”
  2. Nurse sharks can reach a length of up to 14 feet and a weight of up to 330 pounds.
  3. They are gray-brown in color and their distinctive tail fins can account for up to a quarter of their length. Unlike other sharks, nurse sharks are smooth to the touch.
  4. The nurse shark’s thousands of tiny, sharp teeth are arranged in rows and rotate into position as necessary to replace a broken or lost tooth.
  5. Common habitats are reefs, channels between mangrove islands, and sand flats.
  6. Nurse sharks are found in the Eastern and Western Atlantic, the Eastern Pacific, and the Caribbean. They dwell on the sea floor in warm, shallow waters.
  7. They are nocturnal, hunting alone at night, and resting during the day in large groups.
  8. The movement of nurse sharks is slow and sluggish. They are non-migratory and adapt to colder water temperatures by decreasing their already low activity level.
  9. When observed by aquarium visitors lying still on the bottom of a tank or pool, nurse sharks are often thought to be injured or even dead.
  10. They are able to breathe while remaining still by pumping water through their mouths and out their gills.
  11. They dine on spiny lobsters, crabs, shrimp, sea urchins, octopi, squid, marine snails and bivalves.
  12. Nurse sharks have been observed resting on the ocean floor, supported by their fins, possibly to lure crustaceans looking for shelter into becoming dinner.
  13. Nurse sharks are ovoviviparious, meaning their eggs develop and hatch inside the female’s body, where the hatchlings continue to grow until live birth occurs. Gestation is six months, and a typical litter size is 21 to 28 pups.
  14. Nurse sharks reach maturity at about 15 to 20 years of age. Their average life span is 25 years.
  15. The nurse shark should not be confused with the gray nurse shark, more commonly known as the sand tiger shark.