Byron Bay has a shark problem!
A TWO-metre shark cruised off Byron Bay beaches yesterday, forcing the local council to admit there is a problem.
The shark, believed to be a great white, was spotted on three occasions off Main Beach, The Wreck and The Pass between 11am and 2pm.
NSW lifesaving services manager Craig Roberts said Main Beach was closed for 30 minutes while lifesavers drove the shark away from 1000 swimmers. "We believe it was the same shark in all three sightings and also the same shark sighted off Main Beach on Saturday morning," he said.
The reports have sparked a reaction from Byron Shire Council's general manager Pam Westing, who has now promised to raise the issue with councillors.
"There definitely seem to be more sharks out there," said Ms Westing. "It's never been a problem in the past.
"It could have a big impact on tourism and the people who live here. It's the talk of the town so obviously whatever concerns residents concerns the council.
"At this stage we haven't taken the initiative to canvass what the options will be (to minimise sharks). Now there have been a few sightings it would probably be something I'll talk to the councillors about.
"We've really been relying on the lifesaving service to advise us and they have not approached us with anything specific."
Mr Roberts defended the lifesaving service's decision not to take swift action.
"With a shark we might provide a recommendation to the council but we haven't done that because we don't believe there is a heightened risk compared to recent years," he said.
A final decision on action would rest with the Department of Primary Industries, said Mr Roberts.
The weekend sightings come just days after The Bulletin published aerial photographs above Byron Bay, showing sharks within metres of swimmers.
Several other shark sightings have been reported in recent weeks, including an incident in which two teenage girls were left stranded off-shore on The Wreck for half an hour after seeing a shark in the water.
But the problem is not isolated to Byron Bay; sharks are also rife in Gold Coast waters, according to Paul Spillard, co-owner of Extreme Fishing Safaris who said this was the busiest shark season he had seen in 20 years.
"There's been mainly bull sharks and a few tigers and hammerheads. Bull sharks are very aggressive. They are one of the few sharks that deliberately target mammals and the Gold Coast's canals are full of them at this time of year.
"They feed on everything from mullet to the occasional wallaby or even dogs."