Australia is home to several different sharks species. With its proximity to three of the five major oceans, the food rich region of the famous Great Barrier Reef, and the East Australian Current, the waters around Australia are rich with biodiversity. Some of these Australian sharks are truly unique and are only found in these waters. Here are some of the most amazing Australia sharks species:
Grey Reef Shark
The Grey Reef Shark is found along the northern coast of Australia and also hunts along the Great Barrier Reef. The Grey Reef Shark is a type of Requiem Shark that can grow up to 8.5 ft (2.6 m) in length and weigh up to 74 lb (33.7 kg). Though a mid-sized shark, the Grey Reef Shark is an incredibly aggressive hunter and tends to chase away other sharks from its hunting grounds with threat displays. Though aggressive, they are surprisingly social. During the day they hunt in packs of nearly 20 sharks, and have also been spotted hunting with Bottlenose Dolphins, Silky Sharks, and Sailfish.
Wobbegong Sharks live off the Western Coast of Australia and are a truly unusual looking bottom-dwelling shark. They have long flat bodies with mottled skin in yellow and brown spots and stripes to camouflage themselves along the seafloor. They also have chin beards with branch whiskers that resemble sea plants or coral. They spend most of their days lying on the seafloor waiting for prey to swim by. When prey approaches, they are powerful ambush predators that strike with a quick, strong suction force and grab the prey with their sharp teach.
Zebra Sharks live along the northern and eastern coastlines of Australia. They are named for their unusual patterning of dark brown stripes that look like the stripes of a Zebra when they are first born. As they got older though, these stripes start to fade and there bodies are covered with yellow and light brown spots. Zebra Sharks grow to an average of 8.2 ft (2.5 m). During the warm months they will gather for mating and the females lay unusual looking eggs that use fibers to attach to coral reefs. There has also been a documented case of a female Zebra Shark reproducing asexually.
Great White Shark
Australia is perhaps best known for its population of Great White Sharks which pass along the coastlines while migrating for food and mating. Great White Sharks are the largest predatory shark in the ocean averaging 15-16 ft (4.57-4.88 m) in length and weighing around 1,151-1,700 lb (522-771 kg). Great White Sharks are impressive hunters that swim incredibly fast and can breach the water. However, in recent years, Australian waters have not been safe for Great White Sharks. After a string of shark attacks, the Australian government began a practice called “shark culling” designed to prevent sharks from swimming near the ocean. This practice of shark culling led to the death of hundreds of Great White Sharks. As an endangered and respected species, the Australian people demanded the government to end the practice of culling, but the number of Great White Sharks in Australia has yet to recover.
Great Hammerhead Shark
Great Hammerhead Sharks live along the eastern, western, and northern coast of Australia in shallow coastal waters. They are the largest of all Hammerhead Sharks measuring up to 14 ft (4.4 m) in length and weighing up to 1,280 lb (580 kg). The Great Hammerhead Shark also has the largest hammerhead of any of the other Hammerhead Sharks, measuring a full 23-27% of its entire body length tail to tip. Unlike other Hammerheads, Great Hammerhead Sharks are very solitary hunters and are rarely, if ever seen in groups. They have a varied diet that includes bony fish, other sharks, crustaceans, and cephalopods, so they thrive along the coral reefs.
Tiger Sharks can be found along the waters of the eastern, western, and northern coast of Australia. Tiger Sharks are very large sharks that grow between 10 and 13 ft (3.25-4.25 m) and weigh around 849-1,400 lb (385-635 kg). As opportunistic predators, they will hunt both in the shallow and deeper waters off the coast. Tiger Sharks are nicknamed “the trashcans of the sea” because of their tendency to eat anything, including non-food items. They eat fish, crustaceans, sea birds, sea mammals, sea snakes, sharks, cephalopods, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and shellfish, basically anything in the ocean they can get their mouth on. Unfortunately, this diverse palette and large appetite gets them in trouble with humans. Tiger Sharks are one of the three most dangerous sharks to humans because they will often bite them out of curiosity.
Whales Sharks are highly migratory but will swim along the northern waters of Australia while searching for food. Whale Sharks are the largest shark on the planet and grow around an average of 41.5 ft (2.65 m) and weigh a massive 47,000 lb (21.5 t). There have been reports of Whale Sharks growing to even larger sizes so they may get even bigger. Fortunately, this massive shark is a docile filter-feeder who glides around the ocean feasting on tiny zooplankton. Since they are so docile (and they have even been known to be playful with divers), it is a very popular activity in Western Australia to go swimming with Whale Sharks in the Ningaloo Reef and around Christmas Island.
These are just some of the dozens of species found along the Australian coasts. Since the oceans around Australia have such diverse ecological traits, there is a lot of biodiversity found in the region. These sharks range from the largest sharks in the world like Whale Sharks to truly bizarre looking creatures like Wobbegongs. Australia is an amazing place to see the amazing array of shark species that roam our waters.