- Australians apparently have a good chance of spotting a shark in the wild, since a new project called the Great Australia Shark Count has thus far determined at least 4,022 sharks swim in waters surrounding the land down under.
While that figure is expected to rise as the count continues, the project has already broken records and is now considered to be the world's largest community shark count, Michael Rupnik, the project's executive officer, told Discovery News.
Prior contenders for that title were the award-winning Ecocean whale shark project, which has reported 1,100 shark sightings in over 10 years, and the global Shark Trust, which has had about 200 shark sightings since 1997.
Adam Smith, national chair of the Australian Underwater Federation that is overseeing the count, credits its success to two reasons.
"Firstly, we have lots of sharks in Australia and people love getting in the water and diving and fishing," he said, adding that Australians also possess "a thirst for knowledge and want to make a difference."
Count participants include scuba divers, underwater spear fishermen and many other recreational water users.
While the project will continue throughout the year, the current most reported shark is the wobbegong, with 903 sightings. The grey nurse shark follows, with 733, and Port Jackson sharks round out the top three with a count of 519.
Other commonly spotted sharks include the grey reef shark, the whitetip reef shark, whale sharks, the blacktip reef shark, the tiger shark, gill sharks and the toothy great white. So far, participants have recorded 13 great white sightings.