WE NEED BETTER ANSWER: SURVIVOR
QUEENSLAND’S only member of “the Bite Club’’ doesn’t believe drum lines are the answer to the state’s shark attack crisis, but says there should be more investment in preventive measures.
Billy O’Leary was 20 when he was bitten by a bull shark while surfing at Nobby Beach in 2012.
The attack snapped his achilles tendon and needed 200 stitches. He was confined to a wheelchair for six months. He is now a member of the Bite Club, a group established by and for shark attack survivors.
But after fear and confusion over his attack passed, Mr O’Leary gained a new perspective on sharks and is opposed to introducing drum lines and shark nets in the Whitsundays, where Victorian doctor Daniel Christidis was fatally mauled on Monday.
“I don’t think it’s the ideal solution,” he said.
“I was pretty much on the fence before I got attacked, but the more I looked into it, the more I thought we should really respect that it’s their territory.
“I don’t think that we should get priority over the apex predator of the ocean.”
He said bycatch from shark nets showed there needed to be another way to preserve humans and marine life. “I think we should be investing more in preventive measures like shark shields and the like,” he said.
“They (sharks) are not looking to eat us. I got attacked by a bull shark and if it had wanted to kill me it would have, but it didn’t.”
Mr O’Leary, now 27 and engaged to be married, is one of the few people to have been attacked by a shark at a southeast Queensland beach since shark nets were introduced in the 1960s.
Billy O'Leary survived an attack by a bull shark in 2012 and says drum lines and nets are not the answer to Queensland’s spate of attacks.