About 18 months ago, a small group of grey nurse sharks were spotted at the Gravel Loader dive site in Shell Harbour. This was around the same time that the number of Grey Nurse sharks normally seen at the Magic Point dive site off Maroubra began to decline. Having dived the Gravel Loader dive site many times from the shore and being such an easy site to dive/navigate, I was excited to head down there and check it out. Upon diving there, we were lucky enough to see 5 – 6 small juvenile Grey Nurse sharks. They were very shy and getting good photos of them proved challenging!! These sharks remained here at the Gravel Loader dive site for around 3 months before disappearing.
About 6 months ago, a few were spotted first, back at the Gravel Loader dive site, and then shortly after in Bush Rangers Bay – a well known and protected spot. Over these past 6 months, more than 20 Grey Nurse sharks have been spotted in the bay at any one time. Having not dived at Bushrangers Bay while the sharks have been there, I took the opportunity yesterday to get in and dive with them. It was also a good opportunity to take a few of the Abyss staff with me and dive the Arch dive site at the same time.
The Arch is a well known (yet not very regularly dived – especially from shore) swim-through / Archway that travels completely under one section of the wall outside of Bushrangers Bay. I normally dive the Arch as a one-way dive on Sidemount or the Prism 2 Rebreather, entering off the rocks on the southern side of Bass Point Tourist Road and walkway, and then swimming north – past The Cave, The Arch and then exiting in Bushrangers Bay. Yesterday, however, the tide was too low in the normal entry spot, so we decided to attempt diving to the Arch from inside Bushrangers Bay and then returning the same way.
Upon entering Bushrangers Bay and descending, we were greeted by around 10 Grey Nurse Sharks within the first few minutes of swimming. A few quick photos before continuing on our way out of Bushrangers Bay, heading south to the Arch. After around 40 minutes of swimming – passing schooling fish, a couple Blue Gropers, a large Eagle Ray and a large Stingray, we found the Arch in 23 metres of water, where we were able to spend around 10 minutes exploring the soft coral growth, slipper lobsters, and schooling pike before making our return journey back into Bushrangers.
Once we were back into the shallower water of Bushrangers, we spent 20 minutes videoing and taking photos of the Grey Nurse. Most of these sharks were quite small juveniles, but unlike the previous juveniles in the area, these guys definitely weren’t shy – well not to me on the rebreather anyway! On two occasions they swam over the top of me only missing my head by a few centimetres!! What an experience! If you haven’t been down to see these sharks yet (or even if you have – I’m sure you want to do it again), make sure you join one of our Free Guided Shore Dives that happen down there each month. There are very few places you can dive with the sharks from the shore so you definitely want to take advantage of this whilst they are there.