Another shark attack…when will we learn? 195



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I have always said I will only swim in South East Queensland.  Not because of some state-based parochial bias, but because I feel I’m less likely to be attacked by a shark. Further north and the fear of box jellyfish, crocs and other nasties kicks in, but from Noosa to Coolangatta, I feel completely at ease slipping into the ocean to frolic in the waves.

Not so in many to most other parts of the country.

Yesterday, in the latest attack, a man has received life threatening injuries, after having been bitten by an as yet unidentified shark, whilst body boarding at Lighthouse Beach, just south of Port Macquarie, NSW. This is the sixth attack in the region, spanning Byron Bay in the north, through Ballina, Evans Head and down to the Central Coast, in the past few months.

Just a few kilometres north, on the other side of the Tweed river, starts a series of beaches as famous as Uluru and as important to Australian tourism as The Great Barrier Reef. Yet the incidence of shark attack is stopped dead in the water.

The difference – shark nets.

These controversial devices have been protecting many beaches for decades, since the late 1930’s in fact. Since, there has only been one fatal attack on a netted beach. One.

Why don’t we install shark nets at all popular swimming and surfing beaches around Australia?

However, despite the seemingly growing incidence of shark attack around the country, the debate around shark nets has intensified. In one corner, conservationists and environmentalists are rightly concerned about the significant number of marine animals, from sharks to turtles and our beloved humpback whales, that drown having been caught in the nets each an every year.

In the other corner, it’s not good publicity to have swimmers and surfers, locals or tourist alike, being attacked in our tourist hotspots, killing them and our reputation at the same time.

What’s behind the increasing numbers of shark attacks?  Have the successful conservation programs that have seen the return of humpback whales to healthy, sustainable numbers brought more sharks to the migratory route?  Are surfers are chasing better waves on less crowded beaches and putting themselves in harms way?

Many surfers will tell you they are in their territory. They have a right to be there. But increasing numbers of stories of another life or limb taken on an Australian beach is not good for business.

Where do you swim? Is the beach protected by shark nets and if so do you feel protected? Do you think similar protection should be rolled out on all popular beaches to protect the beach-going public? Or should they be removed period.  Join the conversation and let’s hear your views.  



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  1. I have also wondered why they are not using shark nets,when we know they work. Something really has to be done.

    6 REPLY
    • They cost money and governments local, state and feds won’t spend money unless it feathers their own nest.

    • Why does something have to be done. More people die fishing (the most dangerous sport in Australia) than are attacked by sharks but no one is advocating a ban on rock fishing.
      Also, few (if any) beaches were ever netted at this time of year because it was too cold to go into the water but with modern wet suits people are swimming all year round.
      Off Coffs Harbour the big white pointer sharks where there in the 60s and 70s but as the water warmed up and the whales headed south, so did the big sharks.
      So by the time the swimming season opened in November the big migratory sharks had gone south and only a few sharks remained. Most white pointer attacks on humans are a case of mistaken identity – from underneath a human on a surfboard looks very like a seal.
      The problem is improved wet suit design – surfing on the East Coast of Australia in winter means sharing the ocean with big sharks that are not there in summer.

    • I understand all that, but imagine the dive tourism takes. Australia is known all over the world for its beautiful swimming beaches.

  2. Maybe if humans stopped over fishing the oceans sharks would not be so close to shore. I once watched a fisherman create a bloody trail into the wharf at Tathra where a good few years later a swimmer was taken. Seals in South Australia in the last few years have begun taking Fairy Penguins causing a slump in numbers. Humans are stripping the oceans creating problems for ocean predators. We are the problem not the sharks.

  3. What about the other mammals like dolphins & whales that get caught up in them. It’s more dangerous to fly on a plane than swim with the Sharks

  4. Would you run through the African Bush with only a swim suit on with all the large predators that live there? No ? Then why on earth would you put yourself in the Ocean dressed only in swim wear with the Oceans largest Predators swimming underneath you? We causes the attacks by over fishing and going into their domain

    1 REPLY
    • Of course the people who live in the African bush take precautions by putting protective barriers around their village so they don’t get eaten.

  5. Don’t blame the Sharks for the mess we made of our oceans…. Fish stock depleting, water temperature increasing, acidification.etc…etc.? Not surprising, shark behaviour changing….we are trashing their home!!

    5 REPLY
    • maybe the gigantic ship that catches all the fish it is also a factory…raping all our waters it is now called the *ABEL TASMAN* compliments of Julia Gillard’s government!! Where are the Greens?

    • Sally Donahue that ship departed our waters in early 2013 without doing even one fishing run.It was reflagged to Lithuania and reverted back to it’s original name.We had a Federal ban on the ship here while research was done to examine it’s impact on our fish population and the owners gave up and went to Lithuania.

  6. Shark nets seem to be extreme including trapping and killing other creatures…. What about fly over by aircraft – I remember these from my teenage years, often provided by popular radio stations? The pilot would wag wings or sound a siren if he spotted a shark… Today it could be done by a drone piloted from the shore??

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