Grey nurse returning
A CRITICALLY endangered shark species is returning to waters around Cook Island.
Palm Beach Dive owner Herb Ilic said grey nurse sharks were returning after a long absence.
“It's been in the past four or five years that we have seen a few around,” Mr Ilic said.
“Years ago they (hunters) killed them all.
“It's because of the marine park that they are starting to come back.
“Life is returning to Cook Island and the sharks were following the fish in.
“The sharks are definitely a big draw for divers.
“We were out there yesterday when the sharks were about and those same divers went out there again today for another look.
“People want to see the sharks. They know a shark can bite and want to swim with them.”
Despite the size, grey nurse sharks are not dangerous and usually ignore divers who get close.
Mr Ilic said there was fishing around the island and most of the sharks had old hooks in their mouths and fishing line trailing behind them.
According to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the numbers of grey nurse sharks were in deep decline because of fishing, hunting and safety nets and shark lines around beaches.
In 2000, a NSW Fisheries survey found there were as few as 292 individual grey nurse sharks in waters off NSW.
Mr Ilic said there were larger communities of grey nurse sharks off the Tweed Coast, including up to 15 individuals at Nine Mile Reef, 2.7km out from Cook Island.