Saturday, November 08, 2008

Lifeguard encounters Great White shark

COUNCIL lifeguard Dave White found himself in a scene straight from the movie Jaws when he spotted a buoy and then a fin moving off Mermaid Beach yesterday.

When he grabbed the buoy in shallow water just off shore, Mr White received a surprise -- on the end of the hook was a 2.3m great white shark.

"I was checking the flags on the beach when I saw the buoy moving and thought, 'that isn't right'," said Mr White.

"When he swam back against the current and I saw the fin I realised something was going on."
Thankfully the beaches were empty yesterday, as the grey skies kept many swimmers and beach revellers away.

It was the second great white caught off the Coast in the past three days after a 2.1m shark was hooked off Rainbow Bay on Wednesday.

It follows reports from scuba divers who saw three 4m great whites at The Pass at Byron Bay and at Smith's Shoal, near Flinders Reef off Cape Moreton, in the past two weeks.

Yesterday's action happened about 12.30pm. With the help of another lifeguard who left his tower up at Nobby Beach, Mr White managed to drag the line and wrangle the shark to shore.

"It was shock more than anything, especially when I realised it was a great white," he said.

A number of stunned witnesses watched as the shark was taken from the water.

Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Queensland shark control program manager, Tony Ham, said great white sightings were not uncommon on the Coast this time of the year.

"It's a bit unusual in that they normally tend to be held in the drum line once they have been caught," said Mr Ham.

"However, from time to time they will thrash and bite frenetically at the anchor rope, as happened yesterday."

The shark was on the beach for about 20 minutes before DPI&F officers took it away to be studied and to check its stomach contents.

Yesterday's catch was the twelfth great white caught in the nets on the Gold Coast since 2003.
Mr Ham said swimmers should be mindful of the great white's presence on the Coast. They would be around for at least another month as they followed the whale population on its migration south.

"It goes to show people should still exercise caution when they are swimming at the beaches, even if they are in the patrolled areas," he said.


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