Are There Great White Sharks In The Great Barrier Reef?

Are There Great White Sharks In The Great Barrier Reef large

If you asked me before I watched the video below are there great white sharks in the Great Barrier Reef, I’d have so no there are not. But unless the video is a fake (which I don’t think it is) you’ll discover that great whites have been seen on the Great Barrier Reef.

Great white sharks have been spotted on the southern most coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef off Lady Elliot Island. The most recent great white shark encounter was a female measuring over four metres (13 feet) in August 2020. This is only the second GBR great white shark sighting in 25 years.

Read on to discover why this great white shark was spotted near Lady Elliot Island at this time of year. But also, why it’s unlikely you’ll experience great white sharks further north on the Great Barrier Reef.

Video of a great white shark calmly swimming by snorkeler off Lady Elliot Island

Video of a great white shark calmly swimming by snorkeler off Lady Elliot Island

An interesting watch of a snorkeler video of a female great white shark on the Great Barrier Reef off Lady Elliot Island.

The snorkeler was near Bundaberg, Queensland when he encountered a four-plus metre (13+ feet) great white shark. Bundeburg is 385 kilometres (239 miles) north of Brisbane.

The great white shark encounter would be a bit of a shocking sight if you’re not expecting it. Especially if you’re about 40 metres (131 feet) away from the boat, plus the shark came to within three metres (10 feet) from you (both of which happened in the video below)!

This great white shark sighting at Lady Elliot Island is only the second in 25 years. You’ll see the shark was clearly interested in the snorkeler as she kept coming back.

Lady Elliot Island - Why the Great Barrier Reef great white sharks are encountered

Why the Great Barrier Reef great white sharks are encountered off Lady Elliot Island

When the great white shark was spotted off Lady Elliot Island it was August. Great white sharks prefer water temperatures between 12-24°C (54-75°F). The average water temperature in August around Lady Elliot Island is around 22°C (71.6°F).

This is the perfect water temperature for great white sharks. Especially when you consider water temperatures in South Africa are 22°C. South Africa is where you’ll find large populations of great white sharks.

Australia sea water temperatures for great white sharks
Australia sea water temperatures for great white sharks – image courtesy of Weather Watch New Zealand and Australia

But also the largest population of great white sharks live around the southern coast of Australia. Sea water temperatures from just south of Sydney around the coast to slightly north of Perth range from 16-22°C (60.8-71.6F). Perfect sea temperatures for great white sharks.

It’s likely that southern-living great white sharks will migrate north as the water temperatures drop during the winter months. But these great white sharks will migrate back south when the sea waters warm in the summer months.

Average water temperatures off Lady Elliot Island during the summer months is a lot warmer. For example it’s 27.4°C (81.3°F) in February. This is way to warm for great white sharks.

Is it likely to spot great white sharks on the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns?

It’s unlikely you will see great white sharks on the Great Barrier Reef north of Lady Elliot Island. This is because sea temperatures are too warm. In this article on the best time to dive the Great Barrier Reef, the coldest average temperature is 24.3°C (75.7°F) off Cairns.

This is just over the great white shark’s top temperature range of 24°C (75°F). This makes it highly unlikely you’ll see great white sharks in the northern region of the Great Barrier Reef. You may want to read about 50 interesting facts about great white sharks too.

One such fact you may not know is that great white sharks are warm blooded fish, which is highly unusual. But then you may be interest to know what sharks do live on the Great Barrier Reef. This question is answered in this article about ‘are the sharks on the Great Barrier Reef‘.

But this is why they feed on seals. The blubber rich seals are a source of high energy that great whites need to keep their core temperature warm. Seals are found in cold water oceans, which includes the southern oceans around south Australia and South Africa.

You may be interest to know why great white sharks congregate around Neptune Island. Or where you can cage dive with great white sharks from an Australian liveaboard.

I hope you enjoyed this article about are there great white sharks in the Great Barrier Reef

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about are there great white sharks in the Great Barrier Reef), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.

Have fun and be safe!

Are There Great White Sharks In The Great Barrier Reef?

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