SHARK, GREY NURSE
The Grey Nurse shark is an elasmobranch and belongs to the carpet shark family. Sharks are the top predators in our oceans, and as such they are important for the marine ecosystems as important regulators of other species. They eat the weak, the old and the dead animals. The Grey Nurse sharks eat mainly lobsters, crabs, smaller sharks, fish, rays and squid. The population has declined dramatically in recent decades, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. After 20 years of protection the population is still declining and there are approximately 400-500 Grey Nurses left in Eastern Australia.
The Grey Nurse Shark can easily be recognized by its characteristic conical snout and under hung jaw. Both jaws are laden with sharp, long and pointed teeth. The head is flattened and it has a large and stout body which ranges up to 3.2m and may weigh up to 300 kg. The body is grey to grey-brown dorsally and off-white on the belly. The juveniles (young sharks) usually have dark spots on the upper two thirds of the body. The first and second dorsal fins are of similar size and the caudal fin is asymmetric. Once believed to be a man-eater it is now known that this shark rarely attacks humans and if it does it is only in defence; or if baited.
The Grey Nurse Shark is an endangered spieces and thus is protected by the Australian government. It is sometime accidently caught by a bait hook like all other types of sharks. The bait is usually a whole fish or parts of fish and other types of bait. The most common fishes used are Mullet, Sand Trout and jackfish.
They have a preference for some places resulting in an uneven distribution. For example there are few Grey Nurse sharks found in north Australia while they are relatively abundant in the southern part of the eastern and western Australian waters.
They are usually found swimming slowly, just above the sea floor, in sandy-bottomed gutters or in rocky underwater caves near inshore rocky reefs and islands. They can be found at depths ranging from 10m (near the coastline) to 200m (on the continental shelf). They are generally solitary but at times small schools of Grey Nurses are found swimming and feeding together.