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Nurse Shark

Illustrator
Duane Raver, Jr.
Season
January 1 to May 14

July 16 to December 31

All Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish and billfish) not retained must be immediately released to ensure the maximum probability of survival, without removing the fish from the water.

*Special permit required - All private vessel owners/operators recreationally fishing for and/or retaining regulated Atlantic Highly Migratory Shark Species for personal use in Federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean (3 to 200 miles off shore) must obtain an Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling Permit.

Consult https://hmspermits.noaa.gov or call toll free (888) 872-8862 for specific information and permits.
Size Limit
54 inch minimum (measured from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail)
Daily Limit / Person
Boat anglers - only 1 shark of any species per vessel, except 1 additional Bonnethead and 1 additional Atlantic Sharpnose per angler onboard vessels.

Shore anglers - only 1 shark of any species per angler, except 1 additional Bonnethead and one additional Atlantic Sharpnose per shore angler.
Delaware Range
Atlantic Ocean
Abundance in Delaware Waters
Rare - this species is more common south of Delaware.
General Habitat and Food Preferences
Nurse Sharks are usually found around deeper waters during the daytime and move into shallower waters after dark.

A nocturnal predator, the Nurse Shark feeds primarily on fishes, skates, stingrays, octopi, squids, clams, shrimps, crabs, and lobsters.
General Description
Nurse Sharks are easy to identify because of the barbels ("whiskers") near its nostrils.

Nurse Sharks generally range from light yellowish tan to dark brown in color.
Did You Know?
The Nurse Shark is a nocturnal animal that often rests in crevices of shipwrecks and artificial reefs during the day. Nurse Sharks are very active during the night.

The barbels ("whiskers") have taste buds that they use to detect food items.

The Nurse Shark is known for the sucking sound it makes when hunting for prey in the sand.
Common Fishing Lures and Baits
For Nurse Sharks, any natural bait (live or dead baitfish, cut baits, shrimp...etc.) will do for this not-so-picky eater.
Typical Sizes Caught
In general, Nurse Sharks range from 90 to 200 pounds.
Citation Minimum Lengths/Weights
Live Release Award
Adult: 66 inches minimum
Youth (age 15 and under): 56 inches minimum

Sport Fishing Tournament Award
Adult: 100 pounds minimum
Youth (age 15 and under): 75 pounds minimum

Nurse Sharks are eligible for the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament and Live Release "Shark" awards, but not currently eligible for an individual species award.
Delaware State Record
825 pounds
Brent Thomas
1981

Nurse Sharks are eligible for the general "Shark" record, but catching one large enough to qualify is unlikely.

Nurse Sharks are not currently eligible for an individual Delaware record.