Sunday, May 20, 2007

Two shark scares not considered alarming considering the facts about sharks

TWO reported shark scares off Warrnambool at the weekend should not cause undue alarm, according to beach users.

A local fisherman, lifesavers and surfers insist that while capable of inflicting severe injuries, sharks should not be feared as man-eaters.

Two encounters with a shark, nearly two metres long, at Logans Beach and The Flume at the weekend forced surfers from the water.

Neville Dance, an amateur shark fisherman for more than 26 years, said any shark the size of the one seen recently could be dangerous. ``I would think that a six-foot shark - it's more likely to take your hand off or take a chunk off...than bite you in half,'' Mr Dance said.

``But the shock of that could kill you.'' Mr Dance said he suspected that the one seen was a sSeven-gill shark which ``will bite you but they're not known as man-eaters.''

In 1961, then Warrnambool surf club president Ron Blackney was swimming only 30 metres from his friend, Ken Smith, and two other men when Mr Smith was set upon by a three-metre shark in front of the surf club.

``The shark grabbed Kenny on the small of his back and took him down,'' Mr Blackney said.
``(Ken) was probably the biggest of the four of us and the jaws went around his waist and across his back but, being the big guy that he was, he forced himself out, then he popped up. The shark came back at him from the front but he fought it off the second time.''

Badly wounded, Mr Smith was rescued and after extensive surgery recovered from his injuries.
In 1964, filmmaker Henry Bource lost his leg to a great white shark while making a documentary off Lady Julia Percy Island.

However, Mr Blackney remains confident the predators pose little risk.

Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club captain Rebel Noter said the shark seen recently was probably just curious.

He said there had been the odd shark sighting near The Flume and Logans Beach.

Douglas McRae, a 19-year-old apprentice electrician who was with Blake French when the shark approached, vowed to return to Logans Beach. ``Once you get a passion for surfing, it just keeps going, no matter what,'' he said.


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