Grey nurse sharks are more active at night, when they hunt. The sharks work as a group to round-up prey, which includes fishes, rays and crustaceans.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Grey nurse sharks are naturally inquisitive, and by making slow and deliberate movements, the sharks often approach to within arms-reach.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Fish Rock off South West Rocks is one of the most consistent locations for recreational divers to encounter grey nurse sharks year round. During certain times of the year the grey nurse can be found swimming in Fish Rock Cave, which makes for a dramatic perspective.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Many of the known grey nurse shark aggregation sites comprise of steep walled gutters, rocky overhangs or caves in which the sharks seek shelter during the day.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    For a few weeks each year between February and May grey nurse sharks aggregate in large numbers off Seal Rocks near Forster, NSW. It’s a rare aggregation that is only experienced at its peak for a couple of days.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Dr Nicholas Otway (NSW DPI) and Fisheries Technician Roger Laird prepare to surgically implant an acoustic tag in a grey nurse shark, which are used to study the localised and migratory movements of this species.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    A diver setting up an acoustic listening station, the primary tool used for shark data collection. 

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Acoustic listening stations are strategically positioned throughout the sharks distribution. When a tagged shark swims within range of the receiver an individual code is registered and stored – a useful advance in technology to study the natural movements of the grey nurse. 

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Despite conservation efforts, grey nurse sharks continue to be caught as by-catch within a range of fisheries as they move between the protected aggregation sites.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Recreational divers continue to be drawn to the aggregation sites of the grey nurse shark to enjoy the exhilarating thrill of a close shark encounter.    

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Pop-up archival satellite tags are used to study the migratory movements of large marine species. They archive data for periods of up to 6 months, after which time they release and float to the surface. The data stored in the tag is then sent back to the researcher via satellite.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    This emaciated grey nurse shark was found washed up on One Mile Beach, near Port Stephens. Grey nurse sharks still face a range of threats, despite being protected by law on the east coast of Australia.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

GALLERY: Protecting the grey nurse shark

By AG STAFF | April 15, 2015

Photographer Justin Gilligan has spent many years capturing images of grey nurse sharks and lobbying for their conservation.