Two endangered grey nurse sharks which are harmless to humans have been found dead on the seabed with bullet holes in their heads.
The sharks were discovered at Box Beach, in Port Stephens, on the NSW mid-north coast, on the weekend. One was a baby male while the other was an adult female.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries is now investigating what has been described as a 'grisly' random attack, with a spokesperson telling the Daily Mail Australia that they are 'very concerned' about the killings.
'It is disappointing to see these pictures and this type of action is totally unacceptable,' the spokesperson said.
An autopsy on the male, which is 1.92 metres, and the female, which is 2.03 metres, will be carried out and it's hoped the bullets can be recovered to help the investiagtion.
Toonie Mahto, a Marine campaigner with the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said she was 'deeply saddened' to hear the fate of the two grey nurses.
'It's a deeply tragic situation especially when we know the majority of Australians have a real love and respect for sharks,' she said.
Ms Mahto said even thought this type of attack has happened before, thankfully the people who 'do this are in a very small minority'.
The Department of Primary Industries now have the carcasses and are investigation the tragic incident
The marine campaigner also said that the killing of one female of such a critically endangered species can have a huge impact on the already dwindling population.
'These are critically endangered sharks and the removal of even one breeding female can have serious implications.'
The DPI estimate that there are only 1500 grey nurse sharks still living in NSW waters, and they are committed to the protection of these animals. If people who killed the sharks are found they could face fines of up to $220,000
In 1984, grey nurses became the first sharks in the world to be protected, by the NSW Government.
They are now protected under both state and Commonwealth legislation. Penalties of as much as $220,000 and up to two years in prison can be handed down for those who catch, keep, buy, sell or possess grey nurse sharks without the correct permit.