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Your photos will help identify and protect the critically endangered Grey Nurse shark

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What is Spot a Shark?

Spot A Shark is a citizen-science program that engages anyone who spends time with Grey Nurse Sharks in the water and can assist our research along East Australian coast. Divers, snorkelers, and others are asked to photograph encounters with Grey Nurse sharks and post their images to the Spot A Shark website.


Scientists then use unique spot patterns visible along the sides of the photographed sharks to identify individual animals. Identifying individual Grey Nurse sharks helps track shark movement, monitor overall health of the population, and help monitor behaviour and changes at local aggregation sites over time. This information is used by Spot A Shark researchers, as well as international partners, to facilitate management decisions aimed towards conserving our Critically Endangered population of Grey Nurse sharks. By supporting this project, you are helping researchers gather valuable data, which may help provide long-term protection for the Grey Nurse sharks and their habitats.

Why we do this?

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“Extinction is imminent in the East Australia population without urgent conservation methods. Our East Coast population migrates between NSW and QLD and their distinct DNA structure suggests that they have been separated from other Grey Nurse (or Sand Tiger) populations for many thousands of years. The only hope for this population of sharks is to protect and conserve at is left of this fragile population. Targeted over-fishing to these sharks decimated the population in the 1970s leaving only around 200 individuals left. Spot A Shark aims to raise awareness and gather evidence to help protect this shark species so that future generations can continue to marvel at their outstanding beauty”, Sean Barker

How does it work?

1. Photograph a shark

2. Submit a photo

3. Researcher Verification

4. Matching Process

5. Shark Match Result

1. Photograph a shark

Every shark has a unique spot pattern on each flank.

A photo of a flank can be matched to another photo of the same flank, or your shark may be a new addition to our database.


About the species

  • Scientific Name: Carcharias taurus

  • Life Expectancy: 17~25years (max ~35years if not hooked)

  • Biology: Ovoviviparous (young hatch inside), with 2 uterus, with the young eating each other until birth, when only two pups will be born (one per uterus).

  • Sexual Reproduction: Females sexually active from between 9-10 years old and only breed once every 2 years after that making recovery a slow process. 9-12months pregnancy term

  • Diet: Small fish, rays, crustaceans

Status: The east coast population is Critically endangered in Australia. This population is genetically distinct from other populations and replenishment of the critically endangered eastern and vulnerable western Australian population is unlikely to be achieved via natural migration due to distances involved

We are supported by...

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If you would like to join us as an administrator or receive further training please contact

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