Few animals have ever suffered so badly from mistaken identity and being in the wrong place at the wrong time as the Australian Grey Nurse Shark.
The early 1960’s were a time of increasing prosperity for the “Lucky Country” and our urban population turned increasingly to the sea for sport & entertainment.
Surfing, spearfishing and game fishing became increasingly popular, and the macho image of these water sports suited the times well.
Marine science was also in it’s infancy, with very little was known about the inhabitants of our coastal waters.
Sharks were generally considered to be very dangerous creatures and large sharks like the Grey Nurse, were automatically assumed to be man-eaters.
Just as newspapers today automatically assign a shark attack to the Great White, back in the 1960’s the Grey Nurse was the “usual suspect”.
Catching one of these supposed man-eaters was considered a heroic act and one guaranteed to draw a big crowd back on the beach when the dead shark was hoisted up for all to see.
It wasn’t until the mid 1970’s that the tide started to turn from the persecution of the Australian Grey Nurse Shark to its protection and conservation. Many notable people made an impact with that endeavor but it was the Australian diving icons Ron & Valerie Taylor who really got the initiative started.
There is still a very long way to go with the conservation of the Australian Grey Nurse Shark. Its long gestation cycle and the small number of pups born evolved because it had few predators in the past and so the decimation of it population in the 1960’s has had a major compound effect that will take a long time to correct.
Diving with the Australian Grey Nurse Shark
There are several locations on the east coast where it is possible to diving with the Australian Grey Nurse Shark is possible and my personal favorite is Magic Point, near Maroubra in Sydney’s posh eastern suburbs.
Although generally solitary sharks, Grey Nurses aggregate on a regular basis at Magic Point as a part of their breeding cycle and spend a lot of time patrolling back anf forth through the cave area.
If you are interested in reading more about this iconic creature use the link provided to check out the Complete Guide to the Australian Grey Nurse Shark.