Nelly the Shark Returns

Author: Duncan Heuer, Photo by: Duncan Heuer & Charlie Elliott


We have seen a comeback of grey nurse sharks in Eastern Suburbs this May.  From north Clovelly to Bondi, we have seen sharks 7 out of 8 dives. Of extra special interest is the return of “Nelly” the shark named by the folks from DroneSharkApp who provide daily drone footage of marine life in Bondi.  Nelly is a 2 meter male grey nurse shark with a distinct hunchback.  It is believed to have scoliosis, which is a rare condition that causes a sideways curvature of the spine.  The causes of scoliosis are unknown, and while infrequent in the wild, seem to be a more common occurring problem that develops in grey nurse sharks that are kept in captivity.  Dr Ilze K. Berzins is a researcher in Florida and she has been documenting cases of this. More info found at this link: https://www.vin.com/apputil/content/defaultadv1.aspx?pId=11125&catId=29140&id=3980471&ind=160&objTypeID=17

Reports of the hunchback shark have emerged as far north as South West Rocks and as far south as Magic Point.  Duncan and Charlie who have contributed the images below first saw Nelly at Broughton Island in July 2018.  “We first saw this shark in July 2018 while diving at Broughton Island.  At the time our mission was to capture images of sharks while holding a sign for Holly Richmond’s The Shark Net Film.  Charlie held the laminated poster with the text “shark nets kill” and posed amongst sharks.”

They stumbled across Nelly on two separate occasions this May at South Bondi.  They submitted the footage from Bondi and Broughton Island to Pete Simpson from Spot-a-Shark and got confirmation that it was indeed the same individual.

The chances of seeing the same shark in the ocean years apart and in different locations is evidence of the range which grey nurse sharks inhabit.  It drives home the point that shark nets are a real danger to these creatures as they patrol our coastline in search of mates. A link to video imagery of Nelly can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPu_mfw8BKM Here is a link to another video of the other grey nurse sharks spotted in Bondi this month: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khFRnk1WbJY

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©2020 Underwater Research Group of NSW

All photos on this website, unless credited otherwise, are by John Turnbull

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