It’s shark week, and I finally ticked off “diving with grey nurse sharks” off my Australia’s travel bucket list a few days ago! We went back to Julian Rocks last weekend, as the dive we did last month was too early in the season to spot grey nurse sharks. We had a blast!
Julian Rocks is rated as one of the top five scuba diving locations in Australia. As the warm tropical currents mix with cooler temperate waters, it attracts many different species according to the season. If you want to dive with grey nurse sharks in Byron Bay, wait for the water to be cold; grey nurse sharks come there in winter (June – September).
Diving in Australia? Don’t miss this list of the best scuba diving sites on Australia’s East Coast!
Grey nurse sharks: why meeting them was on my bucket list
There are many different species of sharks. I have dived with sharks since my first dive, and I am always excited to spot them. I often had the opportunity to see the common sharks from the Eastern Australian Coast: reef sharks (grey, white or black tip), wobbegongs, guitar sharks…
None of these sharks are known to be dangerous. They are not as impressive as the images and terror we have in mind when we think about sharks. I always enjoy seeing them, but I was ready for the next step.
Grey nurse sharks look scary, but they’re actually harmless.
Their shape, their size (3.5m), their exposed teeth and their proximity with divers create all together a very impressive experience. Shivers guaranteed: the first time they look at you while coming closer and finally swim only 10cm above your head creates a unique feeling.
Sadly, Grey Nurse Sharks are facing extinction. They used to be in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, Indian and western Pacific oceans. Today, they can only be found in North Carolina and off Natal, and in Australia (south-west of Western Australia and on the East Coast in the north of New South Wales / South of Queensland).
Although they are now protected, their population take a long time to recover from the extensive commercial fishing in the past, and they still are in real danger of disappearing. A significant threat to the recovery of the species is the accidental capture during recreational or commercial fishing in areas of habitat, in addition to the more obvious illegal fishing.
For those travelling the South East Coast of Australia, these are actions we can do to help Grey Nurse Sharks a bit (copied from the Department of the Environment – Government of Australia website):
- Remove any rubbish or fishing gear that you see in the water or on the beach
- Refrain from fishing in Grey Nurse Shark areas
- If diving, report any tagged Grey Nurse Sharks to New South Wales Fisheries or the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency
- If fishing, report any Grey Nurse Sharks accidentally caught to New South Wales Fisheries or the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency
- Contact the Threatened Species Network in your state and participate in volunteer work
- Learn more about threatened species and their habitats.
What about you? Would you swim with grey nurse sharks? What’s the most impressive wild animal you’ve encountered?
Where is Julian Rocks?
Julian Rocks is 2.5 kilometres from Byron Bay shore, in New South Wales. It takes approximately 2 hours to drive from Brisbane to Byron Bay.
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