Sunday, 27 April 2014 01:06

Grey Nurse Sharks - An Introduction

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The Grey Nurse Shark is in real danger of disappearing from the East coast of Australia! It is believed that there could be as few as 300 remaining on the east coast making the grey nurse shark Australia's most endangered species.

The Grey Nurse Shark Carcharias taurus (Rafinesque, 1810) is a threatened species and totally protected in Australian waters. In the past, the Grey Nurse Shark had an undeserved reputation in Australia as a man-eater. Many shark attacks in Australian waters were attributed incorrectly to the Grey Nurse Shark, often due to its fierce appearance. The Grey Nurse Shark's reputation led to indiscriminate killing of the species by spear and line fishers. During the 1950s and 60s there was a concerted effort among spear fishers to wipe out Grey Nurse Sharks along the NSW coastline.

The mass slaughter of thousands of Grey Nurse Sharks led to a dramatic decline in the numbers along the east coast of Australia. Cropp (1964) in his book 'Shark Hunters' speculated that at the time of publication, close to 300 Grey Nurse Sharks had been taken since the use of powerheads became widespread in skin diving circles. He also reported taking 24 grey nurse from a single gutter at Seal Rocks in one day and earlier reflected that the Grey Nurse Shark would soon become rare as a consequence of the introduction of powerheads. NSW Fisheries protected the shark in 1984, making it the first shark to be protected in the world. However, the east coast population has still not recovered since its protection in 1984

If you happen to spot a Grey Nurse while you are diving, it is very important that you let us know about it. We have included 2 reporting forms for you to download and print with all the information you need to help identify sexes etc. For reporting Grey Nurse in QLD please use THIS FORM and for reporting NSW sightings, please use THIS FORM. By taking the time to fill in these forms, you are helping to gather more vital information about their habits and locations.