Sharks: many places, many stories
For 450 million years they’ve dominated our oceans but today sharks are now under threat. Hear from First Nations peoples, scientists and conservationist as they share their stories about these ancient survivors.
The ancient ones
Sharks are ancient creatures that evolved long before dinosaurs lived on land. They have survived five global mass extinctions, each of which wiped out more than 75 per cent of animal species.
What is a shark?
Sharks are fish that have skeletons made of cartilage rather than bone, making them lighter and more buoyant in water. Over millions of years, they have developed extraordinary senses to help navigate and detect prey.
Sharks bodies and senses
Over millions of years, sharks have developed streamlined bodies and extraordinary senses to help navigate and detect prey while also providing protection against attack.
Respect and fear
First Nations peoples of the sea in Australia and the Paciﬁc have always respected sharks, revering them as ancestors and gods. However, sharks have often been portrayed as killing machines and monsters to be feared.
Why oceans need sharks
Apex predators such as big sharks play a crucial role in keeping the ocean’s delicate ecosystem in balance. Intense overfishing has not only had devastating effects on shark numbers but also placed huge stress on the entire marine food chain.
We can all take action to help save the world’s shark populations. Knowledge from the First Nations peoples, scientists and ecologists can guide our next steps.
Learn about different shark species from ancient shark ancestors to the largest and fastest sharks and discover 3D interactive models.
Hawaii is an archipelago of 137 volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean and the first peoples of the Hawaiian islands are the Kānaka Maoli. Explore the home of the world's largest protected marine areas and learn from the wisdom of the First Nation Hawaiian peoples.
Torres Strait Islands
People have inhabited the Torres Strait Islands for at least 2500 years and the surrounding sea is rich in coral and marine life. Learn about the shark in the sky and the importance of the sea and land.
The Republic of Fiji is an archipelago of more than 330 islands in the South Pacific Ocean and more than 30 species of sharks are found in the Fijian waters. Learn how sharks are ancestral gods and have been an integral part of Fijian culture for thousands of years.
Tonga is an archipelago of more than 170 islands scattered over 700,000 square kilometres of the southern Paciﬁc Ocean. Learn about the sacred relationship that the Tongan peoples have with sharks.
Aotearoa New Zealand consists of two islands and around 70 species of sharks are found in their waters. Discover why sharks are our kin and how their wellbeing is interconnected to the health of the environment.
New South Wales
The warm East Australian Current flows down the New South Wales (NSW) coast, making it a popular habitat for sharks. Discover the stories and ceremonies of the coastal clan groups of the Eora Nation and their connection to the ocean.
The Australian Museum would like to thank everyone involved in producing the Sharks exhibition and digital publication.