Australian diver becomes 100th shark watching volunteer

Grey Nurse Shark Watch, the first marine project of its kind to collect and collate results on the population and behaviours of the endangered grey nurse shark, is celebrating the signing of its 100th shark swimming volunteer.

Tess Middleton, an avid recreational diver and grey nurse shark fan, represents a dedicated group of volunteers who have registered as site custodians as part of the Grey Nurse Shark Watch programme. Tess and her fellow volunteers are adding to a wider body of knowledge about grey nurse shark numbers, movements and distribution by monitoring, recording and photographing individual sharks during their recreational diving or fishing activities.

100th volunteer Tess Middleton
100th volunteer Tess Middleton

Twenty-four year old Tess said, “I have always loved sharks and will spend my life helping them in any way I can.

“I am proud to be the 100th volunteer. I hope this programme can provide us with the information needed to rebuild a struggling species.”

Data collected will form part of a national database that will be shared by researchers and will also allow contributors to monitor “their” sharks as well as those of others on an ongoing basis.

Grey Nurse Shark Watch started in June 2011 as a research programme to address knowledge gaps in the location of breeding and aggregation sites of the East Coast grey nurse shark population.

The Australian East Coast population of grey nurse shark is listed as Critically Endangered. Much remains unknown about its lifecycle and information collected as part of the Grey Nurse Shark Watch programme will help efforts to conserve this important species.

Funding for this project has been generously provided by Australian Capital Equity and the Ronald Geoffrey Arnott Foundation (managed by Perpetual). The project is supported by Australia Zoo, Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management, Fauna & Flora International Australia, Reef Check Australia, Lady Elliot Eco Resort, Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing, Seaworld and The University of Queensland.

For more information on how to register as a site custodian, please visit www.reefcheckaustralia.org

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