Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Great white shark pup, in popular swimming area for kids

The 2m-long shark, dubbed Jaws Junior, was caught in shallow calm waters in a commercial fishing net 500m off the lake's Canton Beach, a popular swimming spot for children.

Unlike its close relatives, great white sharks give birth to fully-formed pups – complete with razor sharp teeth – of up to 1.5m. They begin feeding immediately after birth.

Local estuary commercial fishermen Mark Sales and Dave Hauraki found the shark dead in the nets they had set for bream on August 26.

The capture ends a long-running local debate over the existence of sharks in the lake system, once thought impenetrable to large marine creatures because its entrance to the sea is so shallow.
"I've seen sharks but nothing like this. It was small and young, but big enough to take a limb off or swallow a head whole," Mr Sales told a local newspaper.

But the pair was reluctant to tell their story yesterday, as they are facing hefty fines over the accidental catch of a protected species. Any great white caught must be reported to the State Government.

Canton Beach is on the eastern side of Tuggerah Lake only minutes from The Entrance, and is a haven for wading prawn fishermen. It is also a perfect swimming environment for children with families flocking to the region during summer.

Sydney-based shark expert Ian Gordon said the juvenile great white might have followed mullet into the lake.

Mr Gordon, dubbed the Shark Whisperer, said it was highly unusual for a white shark to enter a lake and it would have had to "thread the needle" of the shallow lake entrance.

Des Dunn, the division commander of the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol at Wallarah Bay said: "I've never seen a shark in the lake myself. For a while now people have been adamant they've seen one in the lake, but people brush it off. Now the myth has become reality."


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