Unlike many shark species, nurse sharks are able to move water through their gills independently without swimming, which enables them to rest along the ocean floor. This sedentary bottom dweller behavior and their sometimes social nature with humans can lead people to believe these sharks are harmless. However, though nearly all bites by nurse sharks are a result of misguided human behavior toward the sharks, they are currently one of the most likely species of shark to bite human beings.
Nurse sharks are suction feeders. Their diet consists mainly of invertebrates, small fish and stingrays, and though their mouths are quite small, they have the strongest suction ability recorded in an aquatic animal. They feed individually at night but have also been know to hunt in packs during the day
The endangered status of nurse sharks on the IUCN list varies by species and location, it ranges from decreasing to unknown due to lack of data. In the country of Belize, nurse sharks are protected by law. To harm or kill a nurse shark is considered a serious offense by law enforcement and the Belizean people. We photographed this nurse shark during a dive in Belize near Silk Cayes Marine Reserve. Read more in our post, Scuba Diving, Placencia, Belize: Nurse Sharks and Oceanic Manta Rays.