Shark sighting off Gold Coast beach

17 Mar

Devon wk9By Devon Cosgrove, Bond University Journalism Student

Burleigh Heads beach was closed on March 9 when a large shark began feeding metres from surfers and swimmers.=

Eight independent sightings of the suspected three-metre Great White were enough to warrant surf lifesavers clearing the water.

Gold Coast surfer Rob Layton said he recognised the distinct shark fin 20 metres from his surfboard that morning.

Yet, Mr Layton said the size and distance were not enough to deter him from the swell.

“It’s one of those things when as a surfer you see something, you’re always a little bit doubtful [that it’s a shark],” he said.

“Usually when surfers see a shark they will stay in the water and take their chances.

“It’s an adrenaline based sport.”

According to Taronga Conservation Society Australia data, shark attacks have become more frequent in the last two years, with a combined total of 22 unprovoked attacks in NSW alone.

In an article published in The Courier Mail in June of 2016, Bond University fisheries expert Dr Daryl McPhee said that rain storms flush out mullet and fish into the ocean from creeks and rivers, often causing sharks to come looking for food.

Every precaution is taken, however, to assure the safety of beachgoers, Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park SLSC club captain Peter Whitty said.

“When a shark is spotted, it’s everyone out of the water as wave runners, IRBs, and a helicopter are deployed to find the shark and secure the area and coax the animal back out to sea to a secure distance,” he said.

People shouldn’t be afraid of the beach though, Mr Whitty said.

“Just be aware of your surroundings and think about your safety first,” he said.

“Swim between the flags – if we can’t see you, we can’t save you.”

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