Meet The Great 8: Sharks - Bundaberg Region
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Meet The Great 8: Sharks

Guest Blogger Bio Natalie Lobartolo

When we mention sharks, there are usually two reactions: excitement or fear. Hollywood blockbusters and mainstream media have portrayed sharks as human eating machines; however, the reality is far from that.

Most people are afraid of sharks until they find themselves in the water with them for the first time. Experience can change your perceptions, transforming fear into excitement, so keep an open mind to the possibility that you may see a shark at some point. On a visit to the reef, you’re most likely to see a small reef shark such as a black or white-tip. They’re not all man-eaters like the movies and media make them out to be. Reef sharks eat smaller fish and crustaceans, and taking a bite of a human would be like a small dog trying to take a bite out of an elephant!

Sharks are an important indicator of reef health and seeing sharks is a sign of a healthy reef. They are apex predators, often sitting at the top of and regulating the food chain. If there are sharks, then there are the fish that they eat, and the fish that those fish eat, and the fish that those fish eat, and the plants that they eat, all the way down the food chain to the tiniest speckle of plankton. If there is a gap somewhere in the chain, sharks will often be missing too. So, in a time when so many creatures in the ocean are facing threats, seeing a shark is means for celebration!

Sharks are mostly scavengers, so they’re always looking for an easy meal and tend to ‘pick-off’ all the slow, sick fish, leaving the healthiest and strongest to grow up and have lots of offspring, passing on ‘big and strong’ genes, to keep fish populations plentiful and healthy. Love a good serve of fish ‘n’ chips? A healthy ecosystem and food chain complete with sharks supports our fisheries – and your next visit to the fish ‘n’ chip shop!

Do what you love, and love the reef!

Unless you’re already an avid scuba diver, the closest most people have ever come to sharks before is at their local fish shop. It’s marketed as ‘flake’. If you love eating fish, be sure to check it’s a sustainable option before you buy. You don’t need to become vegan or cut out fish altogether, but a simple question may help you continue to enjoy eating fish in a more conscious, responsible and sustainable way. Making wise choices on land will help to support the health of all critters we love to visit and see on the reef!

DIVERS ALERT: If you are in search of a spot to dive with sharks, the Southern Great Barrier Reef is the place to go. You’ll commonly come across white, black and grey reef sharks, silvertips, wobbegongs, tawny nurse, leopards, bamboo sharks, shovel-nosed sharks and if you’re really lucky, you may even be lucky enough to have an extremely rare encounter with a tiger shark.

Your Master Reef Guide Top Tip!

If you’re out at the reef, be mindful not to throw anything overboard. Shark attacks are often linked to sharks associating boats with food. If you throw scraps overboard – even if they are organic – sharks will learn that things falling from boats mean food. Feeding any marine wildlife can upset their habits and disturb the food chain. We certainly don’t want sharks to get mixed up between a feed and a foot!

Sharks have earned a fearsome reputation as predators which is often exaggerated and fear mongering. Although a shark encounter can be thrilling, it is always important to be aware and respectful of these creatures, and remember that we are entering their beautiful ocean environment. 

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Tuesday, 28 May 2024

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