Grey nurse sharks, also known as sand tiger sharks, look toothy and formidable, but a new study finds they are actually curious about certain divers, whom they do not attack or bother.
The findings, published in the journal Tourism Management, indicate that scuba diving tourism can exist in the eastern Australia habitat of critically endangered grey nurse sharks, so long as divers behave a particular way and strictly follow guidelines.
If people comply, lead author Kirby Smith told Discovery News that the sharks will "often passively approach divers before slowly moving past them and remaining within close range." She added that sometimes "more than 30" large sharks at a time will come right up to particular divers and harmlessly check them out.
The experience is quite memorable, given the look of these sharks.
"Grey nurse sharks grow to about 3.2 meters (10.5 feet) in total length, have a stocky appearance and have three rows of exposed teeth on the upper and lower jaws that protrude from the mouth," said Smith, who is a researcher in the School of Engineering and Science at Victoria University.