Close encounters with grey nurse sharks

Grey Nurse Shark at Stradbroke Island

Recently I have had the need to get out for a freedive or scuba dive.  I have had a few free dives on the sunshine coast over the last week with over 20m visibility, so I was quite excited about getting as much diving in as possible while the visibility was good. Having some free time on Sunday I decided it was time to pay a visit to some friends staying on North Stradbroke Island and head out to Shark Alley to see if we could find the grey nurse sharks.  It was a beautiful sunny morning with just a little westerly breeze blowing and the day looked like it would be the ultimae day for scuba diving, especially with the recent good visibility.  We headed out Sunday around lunch time to Shark Alley with all our underwater camera gear and dive gear to be greated with little swell.  As we jumped in the water for the first of our two dives we saw that the visibility was going to be a little ordinary (5-8m if you are lucky) with a lot of particle in the water.  As we decended down the mooring it just got darker and darker and I knew right then it was ging to be a challenge to photograph anything without a lot of highlighted particle from the strobes.  After checking our gear we decided to head up shark alley to be greated by several large grey nurse sharks though our presence did seem to scare them off a litte.  I eventually found a nice spot on a gravelly bottom to take a few pictures and waited for the sharks to come to me.  Eventually they  came in through another gutter as another group of divers came through and this time they were not too afraid to pose - in fact they came close enough that you could stroke the bottom of them as they came over the top.  The sharks were in about 20 - 25m of water and the second dive we had there saw the visibility drop off to about 5m.  Even though the visibility wasn't great - it was an awesome feeling seeing these amazing animal so close up in the wild.  I can't wait for the next trip - hopefully with better visibility!

The photos in this series have all been taken with the Olympus O-MD E-M5 and the Panasonic 7-14mm lens.  The housing used was a Nauticam housing with 2 sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes atttached to it.  The camera was set to all manual settings and the f-stop varied between about f/5.6 and f/8.0.  Shutter speed also varied between 1/100th and 1/200th sec with strobes in ttl mode with manual adjustments made to these as needed.

Ascending in poor visibility - a friend with a huge Ikelite Housing and twin strobes

Sneaking around a gutter with a couple of little fish

A Grey Nurse and a few friends

I caught these three grey nurse sharks jaming in a  gutter party

A close up with wide angle lens - note the hook in the side of the mouth.  We have been told this shark is no longer able to eat and this is evidenced from the algae growing on its teeth

The same fierce loking shark with a hook in its mouth

Side profile portrait

Heading up the stairs and out of the gutter party

Another side profile portrait with a couple of friends

Still posing with friends!

getting repetitive now - but they were insisting on getting photos even if the visibility was bad

Tickling a small Grey Nurse Shark in the wild


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