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An albino grey nurse

A Rare Encounter By Larry Anderson

It’s not often these days you get to see something no one else has ever seen, what with pay T.V., documentaries, videos and the World Wide Web, there is not much that’s new. But that’s exactly what happened to me the other day.

I was completing my D.M with Fish Rock Dive Centre at South West Rocks on the Mid North Coast of N.S.W. I was diving with Jon the owner, Andy a Canadian from Vancouver Island and his girlfriend Clare from Perth. Andy was on a mission to get a cover photo of a shark, for a Canadian shark magazine he contributes to. Andy reckons in the sea there are sharks and everything else is shark food.

None of the usual painted crays, turtles, black cod or any of the other dozens of varieties of fish could excite him, it was sharks or nothing. It was their last day after a great week of diving, but still that perfect cover shot had evaded him. The weather was on our side this day, a light nor wester, no swell and the sun was shining, the sort of day boat diver’s dream of.

As I passed Andy’s camera to him over the side of the boat, I wished him good luck and settled down for my morning’s meditation.

Jon’s smiling face was the first to reappear he had taken his newly repaired video camera housing with him for a test run. Excitement showed on his face, “What did you see?”

“An albino grey nurse”

“You’re kidding, I replied.

Albino grey nurse shark with a regular coloured specimen.

Albino grey nurse shark with a regular coloured specimen.

“No I got it on tape”, after a pause, “Well I hope I did”.

Yeh he got it and I wasn’t going to miss my chance to do the same. So before Andy and Clare had finished their safety stop on the mooring line I passed them on my way down with an O.K signal.

With my anticipation building I started adding air to my B.C to slow my decent. Below me I could make out the streamline shapes slowly cruising along the gutter . As I reached the bottom the nurses showed little interest in this new arrival to their neighborhood.

There in the distance was an apparition a ghost of a shark slowly approaching, what a sight and my camera was rolling. Nothing I’ve seen in my many years of diving could compare to the sight of this beautiful animal as it slowly cruised by. It seemed to be just that little more cautious just that little more hesitant then the other sharks to come near. I guess to survive standing out the way it did it needed to have just a bit more of the survival instinct in him. The same instinct that had helped him to reach maturity.

After what seemed like no time at all I was heading back up to the boat, to be greeted by Jon, Clare and Andy, who as his expression showed had his cover shot, not of a wobbegong but of a shark to now  only four people in the world may have seen.

There are many reasons why I dive, not only for the great friendships that you can make and different people you meet, not only for the beautiful places you get to see, but because in this every shrinking world there is still something ordinary people can do any day of the week and still see extraordinary things.

Thanks to Jon and the team at Fish Rock Dive for all your help with my D.M and for the extraordinary diving. Fish Rock is the must do dive on the east coast. For a look at some video of the shark go to www.fishrock.com.au


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