Sharks have struck fear into humans for centuries; however very few species pose any real threat.
There are over 400 species of sharks worldwide. The largest species, which is also the largest of all fish, is the whale shark, which can reach up to 13 metres long.
Most sharks feed on other fish but the larger species such as the great white shark also prey on large marine mammals like sea lions, seals and dolphins. They also include turtles and sea birds in their diet.
NSW waters are home to a variety of shark species, including:
* great white shark
* tiger shark
* bull shark
* bronze whaler
* broadnose seven gill shark
* oceanic whitetip
* grey nurse
Only the great white, bull and tiger sharks can pose a significant risk to humans. Attacks are actually quite uncommon, with scientists believing that sharks may confuse humans with prey such as seals.
Sharks are at the top of the food chain and play an important role in the ocean ecosystem. Like most top predators, sharks feed on the weak and sick and by doing so guarantee the health of the schools of fish on which they feed. Shark protection therefore is very important to maintain a healthy balance in the world's oceans
Shark populations are decreasing worldwide due to heavy commercial fishing. This is why many shark species are protected and classified as endangered.
Sharks in NSW
There are several diving spots along the NSW coast where you will be able to see sharks in the wild. If you are not an experienced diver, it is probably best to go with a certified scuba diving operator.
The Department of Primary Industries has more information on sharks within NSW waters.