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  Seaweek 2005 - Save Our Sharks - Student Info sheet    
Student Information Sheet - The Grey Nurse Shark
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Do they migrate?
A tagging program was started in 2002 to understand the movements of grey nurse sharks along the east coast of Australia. Twenty-four sharks were tagged ranging in size from 1 metres to –2.61 metres Of these, 20 individuals had been resighted on at least one occasion within one year of tagging.

The research found that the same grey nurse sharks occupied particular sites along the coast at various times during the year. The sharks spent different amounts of time at particular sites. They traveled in one direction for distances up to 880 km and traveled from sites in Queensland to sites in central and southern New South Wales (and vice-versa).

Researchers are currently examining local grey nurse shark movements within the critical-habitat sites. The results of this work have shown that the sharks move out at least 1.2 km from their gathering site.


What threatens the survival of Grey Nurse Sharks?

Recreational fishing (sportfishing, spearfishing, gamefishers)

  • Grey nurse sharks can take baited hooks that are often set for demersal species such as snapper, kingfish and mulloway. This can cause infection and death when these get caught in the jaws of the grey nurse and/or puncture the stomach, the sac around the heart and oesophagus.
  • Recreational gamefishers have voluntarily banned grey nurse captures since 1979.
  • Spearfishing for grey nurse sharks in Commonwealth and State waters is not allowed.
Commercial fishing
  • Set lines are often left overnight and unattended by commercial fishers. This method catches more grey nurse sharks than any other fishing method. Trawling can also capture this species as bycatch.
  • The high demand for shark fins can impact upon this species as this may lead to targeting.

Beach netting

  • Shark control programs are a major threat to the grey nurse shark in New South Wales and Queensland. These sharks are caught as bycatch in shark nets, but are not targeted in these programs as they are not seen as a threat to humans.


  • Diving regulations have been introduced for diving with grey nurse sharks and will help minimise impacts from diving in the future.
  • If divers continue to keep an acceptable distance from these sharks, it is unlikely that scuba diving will have any harmful effects on their survival.
Are they protected?
Grey Nurse Sharks are protected species in Commonwealth waters under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Alex Gaut adapted this information sheet for children (which is suitable for primary school students) from the information sheet compiled for the general public by from © Brad Norman (ECOCEAN) [].

This information sheet may be copied for educational purposes. For any other purpose please contact your State MESA representative:

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Save Our Sharks March 6 to 13, 2005