NEWS

Five Great White Sharks Caught At Notorious Hot Spot On The Weekend

One shark was more than three metres long -- that's one-and-a-half Michael Jordans.

12/12/2016 9:47 AM AEDT | Updated 12/12/2016 4:38 PM AEDT
NSW Primary Industries
Sharks were caught and then released further out to sea.

Five great white sharks were caught on the NSW north coast in two days, including a whopping 3.2m shark sporting a gnarly bite mark on its eye.

As the temperatures hit 26 degrees in Ballina, it was a busy beach weekend from Byron Bay down to Sharpes Beach, and while swimmers were out in force, sharks weren't too far off, including this 3.5m great white that came within 30m of surfers at The Pass in Byron.

To give you some context, 3.5m is as long as two refrigerators end on end. Except it's got banks of flesh-ripping teeth and can burst towards you at 40km/h.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair told The Huffington Post Australia the NSW Shark Smart program was all over north coast beaches.

NSW Primary Industries
Note this shark's gnarly scar around the eye.

"Our measures were in full force over the weekend -- aerial surveillance, nets and SMART drumlines were all used to help tag and relocate sharks away from beachgoers," Blair told HuffPost Australia.

"Although we can't guarantee there will be no shark attacks, the NSW Government is doing all we can to minimise the risk."

After an attack in September, nets were erected as part of a trial at Lighthouse Beach, Sharpes Beach, Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head, and Shelly Beach at Ballina and Evans Head Beach.

This was despite environmental concerns that animals including protected sharks would be trapped and killed.

A shark net is not designed to catch and kill sharks, it's designed to create a barrier that makes sharks less likely to swim to the beach and entangle particularly large sharks.

When they were announced on Friday, Blair said the nets made noise to deter whales and dolphins.

"The nets have been fitted with 'whale alarms' and 'dolphin pingers' like those used between Newcastle and Wollongong to assist in deterring whales and dolphins and will be checked twice daily," Blair said.

NSW Primary Industries
A shark is caught for tagging.

On one of these twice-daily checks, the large shark was found.

Blair said the 3.2m female was tagged and released.

Other sharks caught on non-lethal SMART Drumlines included:

• 2.72m White shark caught off South Ballina

• 3m White shark caught off Lennox Head

• 2.37m White shark caught off Evans Head

• 2.59m White shark caught off Evans Head

Fatal shark attacks

In 2016, there have been two fatal shark attacks in Australia -- scuba diver Doreen Collier in Western Australia and surfer Ben Gerring also in WA.

In 2015, there were two fatal shark attacks -- diver Damian Johnson in Tasmania and surfer Tadashi Nakahara at Ballina.

In 2014, there were five fatal shark attacks -- swimmer Paul Wilcox in Byron Bay, swimmer Christine Armstrong in Tarthra, spearfisherman Daniel Smith at Port Douglas, spearfisherman Sam Kellett at Cape Yorke and spearfisherman Jay Muscat near Albany.

In the past 12 months, there have been 120 white sharks and 88 bull sharks tagged by either NSW Department of Primary Industries or CSIRO. Once tagged, you can follow a shark's journey (including one great white's trip to New Zealand).



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