We’ve seen them in Jaws and think of them as an ocean predator with massive sharp teeth out to eat humans – at least that’s what Hollywood wants us to believe. The reality is that these majestic creatures, which have been around for 450 million years, are often misunderstood and feared for the wrong reasons. Whilst it is true that sharks are the top predator of the marine ecosystem, they mainly prey on old, sick and slower fish to keep prey populations healthy. There are over 400 species of sharks around the world, 170 of them are found in Australian waters, with more than 50 species calling the coast of Queensland their home. 

Seeing a shark is one thing, but being able to go swimming alongside one is a completely different experience. It will get your heart-racing, adrenaline pumping and make for great stories to share with family and friends. Here in Queensland you get the chance to do just that. With such a diverse shark population, you could be swimming with the world’s largest whale sharks, or with some of the smaller resident sharks such as the spotted wobbegong or leopard shark.

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Queensland's shark species and where to find them

  • Great White Sharks – This is perhaps one of the more famous shark species thanks to the film industry. Their average length is 4.6m but can grow as long as 6m. They have a white underbelly from which their name comes from and due to their streamlined shape and powerful tails, they can propel themselves through the water at speeds over 60km an hour. You’ll find these in deeper water and can be seen out of Moreton Bay.
  • Grey Nurse – Grey nurse sharks are a schooling fish and are often found in a group of five or more in the same place at the same time. Their long, sharp protruding teeth often give them a fierce appearance which may make them seem like a ‘man-eater’ however this is not the case. You’ll find them in deep sandy-bottomed gutters or rocky caves, in the vicinity of inshore rocky reefs and islands.
  • Grey Reef Shark – They are often found inshore and offshore north of Brisbane and up along the east coast, normally found cruising around reefs and shoals. They love the warmer and shallow waters.
  • Hammerhead – These are one of the most easily recognisable sharks out there. They are characterised by their distinct hammer-shaped head with wide eyes, giving them a better visual range than most sharks. They can be seen in big groups during summer migration as they prefer must cooler waters.
  • Leopard Sharks  - These are a stunning sight with leopard-like spots over their backs that you will usually spot while their lying around on a sandy patch of the ocean floor. Spot these beauties off the coast of Brisbane and in some sites at the Gold Coast.
  • Spotted Wobbegongs - These are pretty common along the coastline but you’ll need to look carefully as they are experts in camouflaging with the surrounding reef and sand. You’ll find them along the reefs in Brisbane all the way up to the Great Barrier Reef
  • Tiger Sharks – These stripped sharks can be found in North Queensland by the Coral Sea. They have excellent eye sight, taste and smell and are able to use its hooked tail to rapidly catch prey.
  • Whale Sharks – They have been spotted on the Great Barrier Reef in Tropical North Queensland. You simply cannot miss them – they are just huge! But don’t fret if you see one – unless you are plankton – as this is all they’re interested in eating!
  • Whitetip Reef Shark – You’ll find these on a dive along much of the coast North of Gladstone. These reef hunters love to eat octopus and reef fish. They have a recognisable white tip on their dorsal fin.

Here's some super sharp sharky facts

  • The average shark has 40-45 teeth which they constantly shed and replace. Some lose up to 35,000 teeth in their lifetime.
  • Sharks do not have a single bone in their body! Their skeleton is made out of cartilage.
  • Sharks do not have to keep moving in order to stay alive. A lot of them can rest on the ocean floor and pump water over their gills.
  • The largest shark to have ever lived (Carcharodon megalodon) grew to a length of 16m and had jaws more than 2m wide. But don’t worry! That was about 16-1.6 million years ago.
  • Nurse sharks are social and often share sleeping quarters with other nurse sharks.
  • Great white sharks eat 11 tonnes of food every year, while humans eat about half a tonne during that same period of time.
  • A whale sharks mouth can open up over 4m wide.