Interesting Grey Nurse Shark Behaviour

Tuesday, 04 Aug, 2020

The study of sharks involves observing and interpreting shark behaviour in the wild. While lots of behaviours have been documented, every now and then a new or unusual action is observed.

Recently, an Apex Harmony campaigner and scuba diver filmed interesting behaviour of a grey nurse shark at Byron Bay’s Julian Rocks, where the sharks congregate in the winter months. 

Dr Carley Kilpatrick is a marine biologist whose speciality is the critically endangered grey nurse shark. She is involved in a citizen science project, Grey Nurse Shark Watch that encourages volunteer divers to record the unique spots and patterns on the side of a shark’s body to identify them and to record their behaviours.

We sent her the footage (below) and here's what she had to say;

Dr Kilpatrick said; "Given it was having a scratch on the bottom first before the head shakes I think something was bothering it, maybe something lodged in its throat/gills, parasites etc. It looked healthy otherwise.”

She added, “I don’t think in this instance it is the case, but I have seen them react (showing a few different behaviours) from being boxed in/feeling trapped, to video lights, during the peak mating period and very occasionally for no obvious reason at all, seemingly to encourage divers to give them some distance. I don’t think it was in response to the divers or video lights in this instance but it could have been." 


Apex Harmony’s mission is the defence and protection of sharks. 

Grey nurse sharks are critically endangered and protected by legislation in New South Wales and yet continue to be caught in the shark nets of New South Wales and Queensland. Apex Harmony continues the campaign for removal of shark nets and drumlines to end their destruction of many species including the grey nurse shark.

Learn more

Share this

Thank you. Please consider sharing with your family and friends to help save more marine lives!