If you're a shark-spotter, these are halcyon days!
Australia’s government broadcaster, the ABC, published an online story last Friday warning of “an unusually high number” of great white sharks off the coast of Perth.
“Six great white sharks have been tagged off Perth in the past two weeks by the Department of Fisheries.”
The tagged great whites were two metres or larger.
“Department scientist Dr Brett Molony said unusual activity was being caused by the annual migration of schools of salmon.
‘The salmon typically migrate into metropolitan waters every year, but they are doing it in bigger numbers and staying around a lot more, a lot longer,’ he said. ‘I don’t think size is that important, it’s just knowing that they’re there, and when they’re there there may be other sharks as well.’
The Western Australian government has built a website called “SharkSmart” that enables users to click on a map and see where tagged sharks have been recorded. It’s a little clunky, like most government websites, but it does include a link to a Twitter account with warnings from this morning such as,
“3.5m white shark sighted 3km offshore Port Beach, Perth Metro. sighted 15:23hrs 07/09.”
Or, from a few hours earlier,
“4.5m white shark sighted 5km offshore Michaelmas Island, Albany. sighted 11:21hrs 07/09.”
Meanwhile, on Australia’s east coast, a community organisation has set up a Facebook page called Shark Reports that collects data from fisherman, surfers and the government to at least give ocean users a bit of a heads-up when it comes to the location of sharks, specifically whites.
From this morning, it reports that a 10-foot white was tagged and released off the popular left-hander South Wall at Ballina, NSW. Ballina? That name ring a bell? Probs don’t need to remind you of the fatal attack on the Japanese surfer by a white in February or the non-fatal attack by a white on a bodyboarder there in July.
Three hours earlier, it reported a minor attack six hours drive south on the NSW Central Coast.
Yesterday, it reported numerous sightings of a great white around Fingal Island and Fingal Bay.
At Lennox, a source reports that nine great whites “have moved in. All four-metres plus…”
The same source emailed a photo of small Lennox Head, with the message, “It’s flat, praise the lord.”
Now you can take all this three ways.
That the focus on sharks has made us paranoid and no further action is necessary. Stay surfing.
Two, there’s something going on out there, therefore, monitor these shark sites and don’t surf rivermouths or anywhere at dawn or dusk.
Or, three, if you’re the romantic type, a shark spotter maybe, marvel at the blistering health of Australia’s coastal waters and pray for some meaningful interaction with these one-of-a-kind predators.
These are halcyon days!
And what do you do if you find a great white on the beach? Roll it back into the sea!