Four sharks have now been killed off the coast off Queensland after two people were bitten in seperate life-threatening attacks last week.
Officials from Fisheries Queensland enticed the sharks to their fate using baited lines and “humanely euthanised” the predators, despite being unsure whether they were the creatures responsible for the attacks on 46-year-old Justine Barwick and 12-year-old Hannah Papps.
“Nothing is more important than the protection of human life,” Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said in a statement, after the attacks.
“I want these drum lines in place as soon as possible. Fisheries officers and water police are already patrolling the area.”
However the state government’s actions have now been slammed by conservation groups and members of the public, with experts claiming the use of baited drum lines could actually make the situation worse, rather than prevent further attacks as intended.
Jonathan Clark, from Sea Shepherd Australia, said: “Baited drum lines targeting sharks in the area will do nothing to prevent further accidents. They may even make the situation worse.
“We have been told that this is an area where locals do not swim, that fishers take sharks there, and that it’s a safe harbour for boats but not for swimming. One of the best mitigation methods is good public information. Were locals and visitors adequately warned following the first bite incident?”
The sharks, which measured 3.7 metres, 3.3m, 2.6m and 2m, were caught and shot, before having their stomachs cut open and the contents examined and their jaws measured, in a bid to determine whether they were responsible for the attacks. The carcasses were then dumped at sea.
Barwick, from Tasmania, was bitten as she snorkelled in Cid Harbour, on Whitsunday Island, on Wednesday and remains in intensive care after she underwent extensive 18-hour reconstructive surgery to save her mauled right leg over the weekend.
While Melbourne schoolgirl Papps was bitten less than 24 hours later on Thursday. She was airlifted to hospital by RACQ Rescue and remains in hospital.
Angry members of the public were also outraged by the decision to carry out a cull, with many taking to social media to brand the cull “disgusting”, stressing that people should be aware of the risks when entering the water, saying it is the sharks’ territory.
Disgusted that our response to two people being bitten by sharks is to ‘just go out and shoot whatever shark you can’. Just saw distressing footage on @Channel9 of a shark being caught and fighting for its life. Would we show a puppy or dolphin in the same position?! #SharkCull
— Zoe Moon (@MissZoeLaLa) September 22, 2018
One angry Twitter user wrote: “It’s so wrong that Queensland government feel the need to cull sharks. We know the dangers when we enter their territory. This is so wrong. Hope the people attacked make a full recovery.
Another said: “Why is QLD killing sharks? It won’t unbite the victims. Enter the sea you enter the natural food chain, if you don’t wanna take that risk don’t enter the sea. You’re more likely to he run over by a bus, do we cull bus drivers?”