Saturday, March 07, 2009

Can E-tagging sharks could help prevent shark attacks?

The NSW government is turning to a new high-tech approach to shark tracking in the wake of three recent attacks off Sydney beaches.

The government's initiatives, to be released for public comment by the end of the month, include a DNA library, GPS monitoring of nets and an electronic tagging program.

It comes after the third shark attack in Sydney in three weeks, in which 15-year-old Andrew Lindop was mauled while surfing off Avalon Beach on Sunday by what was believed to be a two metre-long great white.

The teenager remains in a satisfactory condition in a Sydney hospital, after suffering deep cuts to left thigh that required four hours of surgery.

Andrew's sister on Monday said he was making jokes, and was being "really, really brave".

The NSW opposition has criticised the government for not doing enough to prevent shark attacks.

"We have a situation that shark nets are deteriorating, the minister has not renewed the quota on catching sharks, and the time of the Westpac (helicopter) shark patrol has been cut," opposition industry spokesman Duncan Gay said on Monday.

But Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said the government will adopt a range of new scientifically-based measures as part of its review of the NSW Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program.

It is the first public review of the program since 1972.

"The recent series of shark attacks in the Sydney area has caused community concern and it should be known the government is taking action," Mr Macdonald said in a statement.

He said the measures would include a DNA library, a new tagging program and research on population trend, patterns and movements, to help identify high risk periods and hot spots.

Mr Macdonald said he would be meeting with lifesaver groups later in the week to discuss practical options that could be implemented.

He rejected calls for aerial patrols over beaches, saying a 2006 summit found fixed wing aircraft could not cover enough area to be effective.

"This is for a number of reasons - identification of species (even telling whether things are sharks or just a big fish) is difficult from a plane," he said.

"In bad light - when sharks are particularly active - and at dawn and dusk (when all three recent attacks in the Sydney area occurred), visibility is poor from a plane."

The attack off Avalon Beach was the third shark attack in as many weeks.

Navy clearance diver Paul de Gelder lost a hand and a leg and was lucky to survive after being mauled by a 2.7-metre bull shark in Sydney Harbour on February 11.

Just a day later, 33-year-old surfer Glenn Orgias was attacked at Bondi Beach by a 2.5-metre great white that shook him and nearly severed his left hand.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Teenager victim of a shark attack is doing well, after surgery

A TEENAGE surfer mauled by a shark off Sydney's northern beaches is recovering well in hospital after four hours of surgery on his leg.

Andrew Lindop, 15, was attacked by a shark, believed to be about 2m long, during an early morning surf with his father off North Avalon beach yesterday.

The 6.45am attack prompted renewed warnings about swimming and surfing at dawn or dusk, which are prime feeding times for sharks.

Local surfers said yesterday's conditions had made an attack more likely. Warm waters and coastal rains had attracted large numbers of baitfish to the area, bringing predators with them, The Australian reported.

Marine experts are working to identify the species of shark responsible for the latest attack. Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported it is believed to be a great white.

Andrew's father Charles had just caught a wave when he heard Andrew scream as the shark bit deeply into his left thigh, its teeth penetrating to the bone.

He turned back to see Andrew thrashing about in the water and managed to get him to shore, where local off-duty surf club members helped care for him until paramedics arrived.

Andrew was rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) by helicopter, where he spent four hours on the operating table. It is the third attack in Sydney in as many weeks.

A hospital spokesman said Andrew was in a general ward and recovering well from surgery. "Doctors are very happy with the results," he said. "He's resting comfortably in a satisfactory condition."

Club member Volker Klemm said the lifesavers grabbed first aid gear when they saw what was happening and raced across the beach in a buggy. "All the time we were talking to Andrew, how he was feeling.

"He was making even some funny jokes," he said on ABC television.

Surf lifesaver Mike Stanley-Jones said Andrew's father had already wrapped his son's legrope around the wound to stop the bleeding when the lifesavers arrived to help.

He said Andrew's mother was a lifesaving trainer and he and his dad were regulars at the beach. "There was no bleeding but the injuries were large," he told Channel Seven this morning.

Mr Stanley-Jones said he had spoken to the family in the wake of the attack, which forced the closure of several beaches. "They are all in good spirits," he said.

In earlier attacks, Navy clearance diver Paul de Gelder lost a hand and a leg and was lucky to survive after being mauled by a 2.7m bull shark off Garden Island in Sydney Harbour on February 11.

Just a day later, 33-year-old surfer Glenn Orgias was attacked by a 2.5m great white that shook him and nearly severed his left hand.

Teenager victim of a shark attack

An Australian surfer has been attacked by a shark at a northern Sydney beach - the third such attack in as many weeks.

The teenager was said to be in a stable condition after suffering severe lacerations to his leg when surfing with his father at Avalon.

Experts believe cleaner waters around Sydney, plus a rise in fish stocks due to a ban on commercial fishing, have attracted more sharks to the area.

In one recent case, a diver lost limbs in a shark attack.

The 15-year-old boy suffered severe cuts, particularly to the upper thigh, and was bleeding heavily when he was brought to shore.

He was airlifted to hospital, where his condition has been described as stable.

Nobody has been killed in the attacks, but a naval diver lost an arm and a leg after being attacked in the city's harbour, close to the Opera House.

And a surfer almost lost a hand when he was savaged at Bondi.

It was the first attack at Australia's iconic beach in 80 years.

People have been warned not to swim alone at dawn or dusk, but researchers have also pointed out that more people die from bee stings and lightning strikes than shark attacks.