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Beach Grit

Revealed: Byron to Forster Crawling with Great Whites!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Two hundred and four Great Whites snatched by drumlines!

It’s been a quiet year on Australia’s blissfully hip North Coast, shark wise.

What had become the modern incarnation of the shark-ridden town Amity in Jaws, a swimmer snatched in waist-deep water, a surfer bitten in half, the town terrorised by Great Whites, had suddenly quieted.

Only one year ago, Dan Webber, the Ballina-based brother of shaper Greg, came up with the startling statistic that, if you surfed for one hour every day around Ballina and Byron, you had a ten percent chance of become shark meal.

(Read that here.) 

Did you wonder what had happened to all the Great Whites?

To find out, a pal of a pal tabulated a year’s worth of SMART (Shark-Management-Alert-in-Real-Time) drumlines statistics from the NSW Department of Fisheries.

(A little background: SMART drumlines have an anchor, a rope, a comms device linked to a satellite and a baited hook. Shark jumps on the hook. Out come the DPI. Nearly all sharks are caught alive and released one kilometre offshore. There’s fifty-five SMART drumlines deployed from Lennox to Forster.)

And oooeeee, they are startling statistics.

In 2016, in the entirety of Queensland, with its network of shark nets and baited hooks, six Great Whites were caught.

From December 2016 to Nov 2017, in the area from Lennox to Forster, a five hour’s drive, 204 Great Whites were caught compared to a dozen Tigers and four Bulls.

Two hundred and four. 

The overwhelming majority of these Great Whites were released alive.

Now, Great White ain’t dumb killing machines despite whatever propaganda you want to employ.

As the gorgeous friend of the Great White, Brinkley Davies, revealed here a few years back, give ’em a fright and you won’t see a White for months.


The question: Does traumatising a Great White on a hook create a beast fearful of human contact?

And if so, should we be out there beating a few more up?