Sea sighting - the leopard shark



Leopard shark.
Images: Lizzie Perkins

Lizzie Perkins from the University of Adelaide was out diving to help phycologists Fred Gurgel and John Huisman collect algae samples when she stumbled across a Stegastoma fasciatum, otherwise known as a leopard shark.

The shark, generally considered to be a gentle, passive animal, was spotted on "Big Vicky's Reef", just off Lizard Island.

"It was amazing – the first leopard shark I've ever seen while diving. It sat there for ages while I took photos. It didn't seem worried by me," Lizzie said.

The distinctive markings provide camouflage for the bottom-feeding shark. They eat worms, gastropods (snails), molluscs, crustaceans a and small fish.


Leopard shark.
Images: Lizzie Perkins

"As I got a little bit closer it swam off, then we were headed in the same direction so I encountered it a couple of times after that. It was just resting on the bottom so I was able to get quite close," she said.

"I wasn't worried at all when I saw it as they are generally thought of as harmless. It was very beautiful to look at; he was just watching me as I watched him."