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  1. #1

    Murky waters: Understanding and responding to unprovoked shark bite

    A shark cull in northern New South Wales in response to the recent spate of unprovoked shark bites is not the short term answer to the problem, according to a Bond University shark expert.

    Dr Daryl McPhee, Associate Dean of Research at Bond University, said it would take approximately 18 months to prepare the necessary documentation and undertake the consultation to meet the Commonwealth environmental assessment requirements, and would most likely be unsuccessful.

    He will be delivering a keynote address into shark ecology and shark attack mitigation at Bond University's Research Week, running from November 16 to 20. The event is held annually to showcase the diverse research underway at the private Gold Coast University.

    "When a series of shark bites occur at a particular location over a short period of time, the issue becomes a societal problem where the Government faces heavy pressure to intervene," said Dr McPhee.

    "We have seen this happen in Western Australia and in Cape Town in South Africa and we are now seeing it happen in northern New South Wales.

    “White sharks in Australia are listed as threatened species which have the same conservation status as the numbat, golden bandicoot and some populations of koalas.

    “The conservation status of white sharks along with the potential for shark nets or drumlines to catch other threatened species such as marine turtles on the New South Wales north coast makes their introduction there exceptionally difficult, if not impossible under Commonwealth environment legislation.

    "There are a number of better avenues we are currently exploring as a solution to the problem such as bather protection enclosures, electrical and chemical deterrents and 'shark spotters' programs.

    "I commend the commitment of both the New South Wales Premier Mike Baird and the Minster for Primary Industries Niall Blair to a forward looking, balanced, and science-based approach to dealing with this difficult issue."

    Dr McPhee recently authored a report into the effectiveness of shark deterrent and detection methods, which he presented at the international shark summit held in Sydney in September, attended by more than 70 shark scientists and experts from across the globe.

    "Methods to detect and deter sharks is a rapidly advancing field, but there is no 'magic bullet'," he said.

    "If an individual chooses to use a personal deterrent, such as an electric deterrent, they should consider one that has been independently trialled and tested and choose a deterrent that suits their particular circumstances.

    "Mitigation must be a mix of personal decisions and government action, however the government should not and cannot be expected to reduce the probability of a shark bite to zero.

    "Above all, we need to be 'shark smart' in the water, for example not swimming at dawn or dusk, or swimming in areas of baitfish."

    Dr McPhee said unprovoked shark bites were increasing globally and there were a number of explanations for this.

    "Globally, we have a lot more people entering the water, which has undoubtedly contributed to the increase in shark incidents, and also our reporting on the issue has improved over time," he said.

    "However, the probability of an unprovoked shark bite is extraordinarily low, and is an extremely infrequent source of harm to people at beaches despite a recent rise in prevalence.

    "You are much more likely to drown at a beach than be killed by a shark. Indeed, globally more people are killed by falling coconuts and jellyfish stings, than by sharks."

    Dr McPhee's public lecture is open to members of the general public to attend free of charge, and will be held in the Basil Sellers Theatre at Bond University on Thursday, November 19, from 6.00pm to 7.30pm.

    For more information on Research Week, visit https://bond.edu.au/researchers/rese.../research-week

  2. #2

    Re: Murky waters: Understanding and responding to unprovoked shark bite

    I have always had the opinion that no matter how many crocodiles are removed from a river it will never be safe to swim ever . But remove sharks from a section of the ocean and it has to become safer than it was. Not saying it should necessarily be done just saying.

    sent from the beerhunter

  3. #3

    Re: Murky waters: Understanding and responding to unprovoked shark bite

    When WA had their spate of attacks it was the same noise, attacks are rare, dont worry about it - but when you consider there were virtually the same number of shark attacks as there were pedestrians hit by cars in WA over the same period, it is still a significant number of incidents when compared to other ways you can get hurt.

  4. #4

    Re: Murky waters: Understanding and responding to unprovoked shark bite

    Strange no one ever raises the possibility of the extra attack numbers being due to the fact there may be more sharks than first "guessed".

  5. #5

    Re: Murky waters: Understanding and responding to unprovoked shark bite

    Department of primary industry have blood on their hands with this issue I'm afraid they have been given every opportunity to change the green forced rules which protect all large sharks leaving the Eco system unbalanced and unfortunately people are dieing and it all falls down to bad decissions being made by pen pushes not listening to operators in the know.
    more people are gonna die needlessly until the ecosystem is put in check.

  6. #6

    Re: Murky waters: Understanding and responding to unprovoked shark bite

    Four attacks on the far north coast since 2008 til present have been within 300 meters of the river mouth three attacks have happened on the same stretch of beach that lies north of the Richmond river while the fourth in Evans head happened no more than 300 meters north of the mouth of the Evans river, if you have a look at all the Crap that gets washed up on the main beach of Ballina it becomes a a no brainer why the sharks are there, couple this up with high nutrients that comes out of the river the unusual amount of bait fish that have been hanging in close the last 12 months its not a wonder why more people have been bitten

  7. #7

    Re: Murky waters: Understanding and responding to unprovoked shark bite

    Daryl, when we're sharks deemed a "threatened" species and have there been any reviews since?
    Democracy: Simply a system that allows the 51% to steal from the other 49%.

  8. #8

    Re: Murky waters: Understanding and responding to unprovoked shark bite

    Hi Lovey80,

    The white shark has been a listed threatened species since 1999 and this status was reviewed in 2008 and then 2013.

    Always remember that on the Gold Coast the most common and most dangerous shark in the loan shark. Particularly common around Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise.

    Daryl

  9. #9

    Re: Murky waters: Understanding and responding to unprovoked shark bite

    Quote Originally Posted by beerhunter View Post
    I have always had the opinion that no matter how many crocodiles are removed from a river it will never be safe to swim ever . But remove sharks from a section of the ocean and it has to become safer than it was. Not saying it should necessarily be done just saying.

    sent from the beerhunter
    Seeing as crocs tend to be much more territorial than sharks your thinking seems arse about face.

    Personally I dont think killing a couple of sharks will achieve much more than encourage a perception of safety. I dont have a problem with the death of a few sharks but I dont see it improving the situation unless there is a particular rouge shark making a nuisance of himself in an area.

    With increasing shark numbers due to protection and more importantly- a bigger increase in the number of people entering the water, there are going to be more interactions= more attacks. Education will help- most attacks have been close to the River mouths around dawn and dusk and often in the presence of mullet runs. Often these are the better surfing areas/times but with a pattern forming, some of the waxheads might rethink their habits. Preventative and discouragement measures are probably going to be the most successful I think. Drum lines (old tech) seem to work reasonably well but new tech stuff such as electro fencing will be the game changer in the next few years I think.


  10. #10

    Re: Murky waters: Understanding and responding to unprovoked shark bite

    Quote Originally Posted by Daryl McPhee View Post
    Hi Lovey80,

    Always remember that on the Gold Coast the most common and most dangerous shark in the loan shark. Particularly common around Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise.

    Daryl


    I like it

  11. #11

    Re: Murky waters: Understanding and responding to unprovoked shark bite

    Quote Originally Posted by Camhawk88 View Post
    Seeing as crocs tend to be much more territorial than sharks your thinking seems arse about face.

    Personally I dont think killing a couple of sharks will achieve much more than encourage a perception of safety. I dont have a problem with the death of a few sharks but I dont see it improving the situation unless there is a particular rouge shark making a nuisance of himself in an area.

    With increasing shark numbers due to protection and more importantly- a bigger increase in the number of people entering the water, there are going to be more interactions= more attacks. Education will help- most attacks have been close to the River mouths around dawn and dusk and often in the presence of mullet runs. Often these are the better surfing areas/times but with a pattern forming, some of the waxheads might rethink their habits. Preventative and discouragement measures are probably going to be the most successful I think. Drum lines (old tech) seem to work reasonably well but new tech stuff such as electro fencing will be the game changer in the next few years I think.
    Its nothing to do with crocs being territorial its the fact that if you swim with a croc it will kill you or at least try and kill you.

    sent from the beerhunter

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