WE NEED BET­TER AN­SWER: SUR­VIVOR

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - JEREMY PIERCE

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.

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