Fish Rock is one of those dive sites that you can count on. I have been three times now, and each trip has been well worth the seven-hour drive from Brisbane. South West Rocks is located half-way between Brisbane and Sydney on Australia’s east coast and is also a great place to visit topside, forgetting the world-class dive site on its doorstep.

We went for a weekend trip a few weeks ago, in the mid-southern hemisphere winter, whilst the water was cold and the skies clear and blue. We’d made the pilgrimage to South West Rocks to see the grey nurse sharks (Carcharias taurus), also known as sand tiger or ragged tooth sharks, which aggregate there pretty much year round.

The diving and accommodation was organised by Jon at Fish Rock Dive Centre, who was very professional, extremely friendly and instantly won us over with hot soup and windbreakers for our surface intervals on the boat.

Unfortunately there had been some fairly strong swells a couple of days before, and the visibility was pretty limited, but it didn’t stop us from coming face to face with hoards of grey nurses. These sharks look extremely menacing due to their prominent teeth, but in fact their teeth are perfectly adapted for catching small fish rather than attacking humans.

We saw at least 20 on each dive, which included pregnant females and some adolescents. This was great to see, as the Australian east coast population of these animals is listed as critically endangered and number in the hundreds. I have posted some of my shots from the weekend on my website,

On a slightly sour note, I am amazed how little protection these animals receive at Fish Rock given their rarity. Research at the site has found that around 40% of the animals have embedded hooks which they get from the many recreational fisherman who are allowed to fish all around this critical habitat. There has been continued lobbying to make this a no-take marine reserve to protect these stunning animals.

Originally written for my FiNS online blog.