Saturday, January 20, 2007

6 m great white shark clears popular beach

ABOUT 100 swimmers were evacuated from a popular tourist beach at Phillip Island, southeast of Melbourne, after a six-metre shark was spotted nearby.

Water Police quickly urged swimmers to leave the water at Cowes and neighbouring beaches when the shark was seen near the Anderson Street boat ramp at Cowes.

Nick Boch, who runs The Hut Boat Ramp Cafe, said a woman had spotted what she first thought was a "silver dolphin playing in the shallows".

"A woman who was fishing came in and she was hyperventilating ... she said: 'I've just seen a shark – a really big one'," Mr Boch said.

"So I phoned fisheries, Marine Safety Victoria, Parks and Wildlife and the police. Fisheries had already had a sighting reported."

Mr Boch said he believed it was a great white shark, which reportedly had a half-metre-long dorsal fin.

He said the shark could have been searching for fish waste after fishermen cleaned their catch offshore.

When some jet skiers learned of the nearby shark, they raced across the waters, trying to find it and scare it away.

"I didn't see the jet skiers come back, but I would have told them they were a pack of fools," Mr Boch said.

Police evacuated tourists and beach-goers on the island's northern beaches, ensuring no one would be hurt.

No sightings of the shark have since been reported.


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