More sharks in our waters mean more attacks likely

26 Mar

shark By Nicola Richards, Bond University Journalism Student Shark numbers in Gold  Coast waterways continue to grow and experts have warned the community to be mindful of the rise in attacks.

Dr Daryl Mcphee, Associate Dean of Research at Bond University, said shark attacks were on the rise.

“The number of unprovoked shark bites has been increasing over the last 30 years globally,” he said.

“It’s mostly due to people in the water but it’s also due to the protection of the shark’s key food resources, which are seals and humpback whales.”

Jeff Krause, manager of the Shark Control Program, said there was a reasonable number of sharks in the Gold Coast canals.

“There’s always reports from paddleboarders who regularly see sharks in the waterways, especially in the summer months” he said.

“It’s not uncommon to see them around the area. “I do know of commercial fishers who have sharks come up to the boats.”

Dr Mcphee said the Gold Coast canals were not excluded from the increasing number of shark bites.

“The bull shark prefers riverine coastal environments, and after rain is a key area for them in particular,” he said.

“Avoid going into coastal waters after rain.”

A 41-year-old Japanese national was killed near Ballina in February, days after a man was mauled but survived at Byron Bay.

In February 2003 Bob Purcell, 84, was killed by a 2.5m bull shark while swimming in Burleigh Lake, six weeks after 23-year-old Beau Martin died in Miami Lake.

Dr Mcphee said there were certain activities that increased a person’s risk of being bitten.

“Paddle boarding and rowing has the potential to result in a bite, but the chances of being attacked is still very low,” he said.

“Kitesurfing creates a serious risk of being bitten because the actions of a kite surfer mimics a very large sea bird, and that’s often the prey of tiger sharks.”

Despite the obvious danger of shark attacks, Dr Mcphee said the chances of being attacked were small compared to other dangerous activities.

“You’re 60 times more likely to drown at a surf beach than you are to be bitten by a shark,” he said.

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