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White Nurse Shark

Albino grey nurse shark looking remarkably healthy.

Albino grey nurse shark looking remarkably healthy.

By Samantha Williams – Article from “the Daily Telegraph”, reprinted on news.com.au, divejournal.ru, underwater.com.au, sharks-articles.info, and teleclassifieds.com.au
August 08′ 2007 12:00am

PERHAPS this is the English shark that had our northern cousins in a cold sweat last week – after all, it’s white, bloated and sports a set of decidedly dodgy teeth.

This rare albino grey nurse has been spotted at Australian’s best known diving and fishing spot Fish Rock.

The photo of the 2.2m male was taken by Fish Rock Dive Centre owner Jon Cragg 2km off South West Rocks. Mr Cragg was speechless when the amazing creature swam past him. “I saw the big white shadow in the water with two other sharks then when I saw it I couldn’t believe it, it was like a ghost coming out of the darkness,” Mr Cragg said. “No one has ever seen one like this before – it was pretty exciting.”

Despite albinos having a lower chance of survival because they are visible to prey, Mr Cragg said this shark was “fighting fit”. “It looks like an active male and it was hanging out with the other sharks quite peacefully,” he said.

The albino shark discovery comes a week after claims a “great white shark” was photographed off the English seaside last week. Despite hysterical headlines in UK papers, experts said the creature was most likely a harmless basking shark.

Larry Anderson, who was diving with Mr Cragg, said the albino was a little more cautious than the others. “I guess to survive standing out the way it did it needed a bit more survival instinct in him,” Mr Anderson said. “Nothing I’ve seen in my many years of diving could compare to the sight of this beautiful animal as it slowly cruised by.”

Since the photograph was taken, the rare shark has been sighted swimming between Fish Rock and nearby Green Island.

Marine expert Julian Pepperell said it was the first albino shark he had heard of: “Where has it been?”

The sighting comes as South West Rocks residents wait to hear if Fish Rock will become a “no-fishing” zone. The Nature Conservation Council (NCC) is pushing for more exclusion zones in NSW such as Fish Rock on the grounds the grey nurse shark species is nearly extinct, with fewer than 500 on the east coast. However, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest up to 6000 grey nurses are out there.

The NCC has taken their campaign to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in a bid to force the Government to set up sanctuaries. If they are successful, Fish Rock will go from being a habitat zone where some fishing is allowed to a sanctuary zone with a 1.5km radius of protection. A decision is expected this month.


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