Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Grey Nurse Sharks a[euro][approximately]Missing in Action'; Australia Zoo Lends Its Weight to International Conservation Effort to Save the Grey Nurse Shark

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Grey Nurse Sharks a[euro][approximately]Missing in Action'; Australia Zoo Lends Its Weight to International Conservation Effort to Save the Grey Nurse Shark

Article excerpt

IT'S not often that people actively seek out sharks, but that's exactly what a team of researchers are doing, thanks to a project in Australia dedicated to uncovering the secrets of a diminishing grey nurse shark population.

The Missing in Action research project forms part of a larger marine incentive known as Grey Nurse Shark Watch.

Launched in Queensland earlier this year, Grey Nurse Shark Watch is the first of its kind to collect and collate results on the population and behaviours of the endangered grey nurse shark species.

Missing In Action forms the field investigation component of the broader GNS Watch project.

The population of grey nurse sharks off the east coast of Australia is considered critically endangered with less than a thousand sharks left in the wild.

Hunted almost to extinction in the 1950s, they only breed once every two to three years.

This combined with their low population numbers and other threats such as accidental capture by fishers and protective beach meshing continue to impact on recovery efforts for the ferocious-looking but gentle giant.

Project partner Australia Zoo has assisted the first team of researchers to begin investigating Queensland's a[approximately]missing' aggregation sites a where the sharks meet to breed, feed and gestate, by generously donating the use of their vessel Croc One to the project.

Without the use of Croc One and its highly specialised crew, this marine environment would be virtually impossible to navigate.

Australia Zoo director Wes Mannion said the vessel was designed by Steve Irwin himself.

aIt's a 75-foot, purpose-built craft, guaranteed to deliver the ultimate in performance during wildlife expeditions,a Wes said.

aThis deep probe expedition boat gives us the chance to research marine wildlife in remote locations, which makes it ideal for the work being carried out by Fauna & Flora International and Grey Nurse Shark Watch. …

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