Saturday, April 05, 2008

Juvenile Great White shark meets sad fate

ONE of the most feared ocean creatures, the great white shark was caught off both Freshwater and Queenscliff beaches yesterday as swimmers enjoyed the last of the warm weather.

The close to 2m long shark was first spotted off Freshwater around lunch time where lifeguards attempted to wrangle the disorientated juvenile.

Lifeguards pulled it right up on to the beach before trying unsuccessfully to walk the shark - which was originally thought to be a mako - out to deeper water.

The Freshwater lifeguards tried twice before using the jet ski to tow the shark out from the beach.
The shark then reappeared around 3.30pm at Queenscliff where it washed up on the rocks. Lifeguards then pulled it up into the rock pools. While he was still alive at the time, the obviously sick fish, an endangered species later died.

The incident occurred only a few days after the whole of Manly beach had to be cleared after a person thought they saw a shark on Sunday.

The sighting was never confirmed but schools of whitebait behaving erratically was also reported on Sunday - a sign of shark feeding activity.

Manly Vale resident Michael McGrath was taking pictures off Freshwater headland yesterday when the shark first swam into Freshwater.

``It didn't look very well. It was really disorientated and it kept washing back in,'' he said.

``The lifeguards I though were very brave. They went right in there to rescue it and one guy got really close.''

Queenscliff lifeguard David Piper said he went looking for the shark after Freshwater radioed it in. Mr Piper said he pulled the shark in to protect swimmers and had notified NSW Department of Fisheries who wanted to use the shark for research. The shark later died at Queenscliff.

Mr Piper told the Daily he has seen sharks close up before but this was definitely the closest.

Senior Aquarist at Manly's Oceanworld Victoria Brims confirmed the shark's identity and said while rare, the Great White is in the northern beaches' waters.

``They are out there. I don't know where the adults are but there are juveniles,'' she said. ``We do get them, especially with changing water temperature and currents, because they follow the food.''
The endangered shark is most well known for attacks on humans.

Ms Brim who estimates the 1.5-2m long shark was only a few years old said a Great White could start to pose a risk when it grows to 3m.

``It is a protected species so it is a shame that no one put it back or called us because it could have had a chance. It is just a waste of that poor shark.''

Great white sharks are the world's largest known predatory fish and can reach lengths of more than 6 m and weighing up to 2,250 kg.


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