Australia has a bit of a reputation for its scary animals and creatures that don’t like to play nice with humans, however a shark attack on the Great Barrier Reef should not be a worry!

Australia averages approximately 4 shark attacks a year, however typically none of them occur on the Great Barrier Reef. That said, there are a number of shark species that call the Great Barrier Reef home. Despite homing over 135 species of shark, sightings on the Great Barrier Reef are relatively uncommon.

Sharks get a bit of a bad rap but in reality, they are quite shy creatures and do not enjoy being around humans. So, while there are many sharks on the reef, you’ll only see one if you’re really lucky! Additionally, if you are snorkelling, you’re even less likely to see any sharks. Sharks tend to prefer deeper waters, so if you’re snorkelling along the surface of the water

Species of Sharks on the Great Barrier Reef

First let us say this, there are no Great White Sharks on the Great Barrier Reef. The water is far too warm for them.

With that sorted, these are the types of sharks you might see on the Great Barrier Reef. Keep in mind that these sharks pose very little threat to humans and will most likely scared away by the presence of humans in the water.

Whitetip Reef Shark

If you were to see a shark on the reef it would most likely be a Whitetip Reef Shark. These sharks are easily identifiable by the white tips on their fins. They do not grow as large as 2m long and are mostly active at night near caves and overhangs. When approached by divers they swim away, and their small teeth and easy-going nature make them quite harmless to humans.

Whale Shark

Whale sharks are quite literally the biggest fish in the sea. Despite their size, whale sharks do not enjoy hunting animals and instead prefer to eat mostly plankton by swimming around the water surface with their mouths open. Though they have approximately 300 teeth, they rarely use them. In fact, these creatures are so docile that they have allowed divers and researchers to place camera equipment on their backs in order to track their movements!

Wobbegong

Wobbegong is the common name used to refer to approximately 12 species of carpet sharks. On the Great Barrier Reef, you may encounter tasselled wobbegongs. They live along the ocean floor and can be easily recognised by their fringe across their flat heads. They are mostly active at night and have been known to swallow prey as large as they are including bony fish, lobsters, crabs and octopus.

Tiger Shark

Second only to the Great White, the Tiger Shark is an apex predator known for their strength and aggression. It is incredibly rare to see these sharks on the reef however they do have a reputation for eating everything in their path, so do not enter the water if you see one.

The best way to stay safe from sharks on the Great Barrier Reef is to listen to your boats crew and stay a safe distance away from all marine life you see!

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