Friday, February 09, 2007

Large shark spotted near Sydney beaches

Reports of a "monster" great white shark near southern Sydney beaches have got local authorities stepping up patrols.

Locals at La Perouse beach, Botany Bay, rapidly left the water about 8.30am today when a large shark was spotted nearby.

Surf Life Saving Sydney spokesman Steven Leahy said a helicopter made several passes over Botany Bay shortly after, but failed to spot the shark.

"A number of people have said it is a monstrous shark, up to 15 feet. Anecdotal evidence to us has been that it is actually big enough to create a wake behind it," Mr Leahy told
After investigating today's reported sightings Mr Leahy said it was likely the shark had been around for at least a few days.

"It has harassed people, apparently it has come close to land, into the shallow water on several occasions.''

SLSS is planning to lay on patrols tomorrow morning at the beach, which is usually unpatrolled.
"We're hoping that we will have two Jet-skis patrolling the area along with an offshore rescue boat between 7am and 9am," Mr Leahy said.

There will also be several lifesavers patrolling the beach.

"When several people tell us that it's a monstrous shark and that it's been there the last couple of days and [that] it's been getting closer and more aggressive, then we have to take that seriously.
"We have to go down there and provide safety services."

Brian Mangan, owner of the Boatshed Cafe, close to many of the recent sightings, confirmed he had seen the shark chasing fish 200 metres offshore, about 7am today.

"It was quite a large shark, it would've been probably the size of my tinnies on the beach, or even bigger, and they're about 13 foot.

"I could see the fin but I couldn't tell if it was a tiger shark or a white pointer, but it was big. It was making huge ripples, like a boat taking off."

He said he had had numerous sightings of a similar sized shark in the same area reported to him by customers at the cafe over the last few days.

"One of the chaps who runs the boats for me downstairs, he was walking his dog on Monday just a little further over from the cafe and he saw it there."

Again it was about 200 metres out and chasing a school of fish.

He said about six people who rent boats from his other business and customers from his cafe had told him they had seen a similar shark over the last three or four days.

"I'm glad there was no one swimming, because quite often a few people go swimming here early in the morning and they go out a fair bit. So they might want to start thinking twice about it until this monster goes away," he said.

Four people to whom spoke also confirmed reports that a shark had taken a pelican and a dog in recent weeks.

Bondi Beach was also the subject of a shark alarm about 9am today, after a distressed member of the public reported a large shark to lifesavers.

"He was really, really distressed and was certain that he'd seen the shark," a spokeswoman for Waverley Council said.

Lifesavers closed the beach for 15 minutes to the 150 or so beachgoers while they checked the water, but were unable to find a shark.


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