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The "grey nurse shark" is the first species of shark I ever saw. I was only 6 or 7 years old and was mesmerised by its massive size and razor-sharp teeth, but also kind of terrified - it was the stuff of nightmares to a little kid. That was at Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, and they had an aquarium with sharks and other marine creatures. But as I grew up I would occasionally see them at the beach, most often at this one (North Avoca Beach), out beyond the breakers. I remember being told to "count the fins" if I ever encountered a shark, and if there were two (dorsal) fins, or three including the long tail breaking the surface of the water, then it was a grey nurse and therefore harmless! Any fear I had of them had long-since-passed, and my siblings and I were water babies and totally fearless of anything other than being dumped by the odd humongous wave. Being shark bait never occurred to us, with any species, and despite the grey nurse's fearsome appearance and strong swimming ability, it is a relatively placid and slow-moving shark with no confirmed human fatalities. That's not bad for an animal that's related to the great white shark Carcharodon carcharias. To quote my niece who dives with these sharks regularly... "they are so placid, big and scary looking, but the old Labrador of the sea." This is a beautiful and fascinating species, and the reference links provide tons of information. Full credit goes to Byron Diver of DIVE Imports Australia, Erina, New South Wales, Australia, for this spotting and photo. Thanks, Byron.
This spotting was located off the (south) Avoca Beach headland, on the NSW Central Coast. Grey nurse sharks usually inhabit sandy coastal waters, estuaries, shallow bays, and rocky or tropical reefs and caves, at depths of up to 190 metres. It is a nocturnal feeder. During the day, they take shelter near rocks, overhangs, caves and reefs often at relatively shallow depths (<20 m). This is the typical environment where divers encounter them, hovering just above the bottom in large sandy gutters and caves. However, at night they leave the shelter and hunt over the ocean bottom, often ranging far from their shelter. This is also a migratory species during the summer and winter months.
Critically Endangered Species: A study mapping the eastern Australian grey nurse shark population has found it has declined rapidly over the last few decades, with only 400 breeding sharks left, too few to maintain a healthy population - https://www.mq.edu.au/newsroom/2019/02/0... The east coast population is listed as "critically endangered", and the west coast population is listed as "vulnerable".... This species became the first protected shark in the world when the New South Wales Government declared it a protected species in 1984 - https://www.environment.gov.au/marine/ma... Grey nurse shark conservation - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_nurse... This species is therefore listed as "vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.