Saturday, February 28, 2009

Great White sharks chased by life savers

SURF life savers were forced to chase sharks – including two great whites – out to sea after they came within about 100m of surfers at Waitpinga Beach and Parsons, near Victor Harbor, yesterday.

In the first sighting, surf lifesavers in the Westpac helicopter cleared the water and herded two 2m-2.5m bronze whalers out to deeper water off Parsons beach at 4.50pm.

They then spotted two 3.5m-4m sharks, believed to be great whites, at neighbouring Waitpinga, with one just 40m from shore.

Surf Life Saving SA state operations manager Shane Daw said when the helicopter returned at around 5.45pm after refuelling, there were again forced to herd six sharks off Waitpinga.

Fisherman were cleared from the water as the two hammerheads and four bronze whalers were scared out to sea.

Mr Saw said during the first sighting sharks, which were chasing schools of fish, came as close as 100-150m to surfers.

"One of the great whites on the Waitpinga side was more stubborn . . . and didn't move out that far," he said.

"It kept coming back in close and hanging around.

"They put the siren and landed on the beach to alert the public in that case. The water was cleared, there were a number of surfers in the area.

"Once they knew the area was safe they flew to Middleton and Goolwa and refuelled and about 5.45pm they came past again and there were six sharks in the area. All the surfers and swimmers had gone by then but there were a couple of fishermen in the water."

The close call for surfers follows more than 60 shark sightings from North Haven to Normanville this summer.

Mr Daw said sightings usually dropped off around mid-late January as large schools of fish stop moving through our beaches.


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