Jaw-drop­ping shark alert for SA beaches

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - BEN HARVY

SOUTH Aus­tralians plan­ning to es­cape a spell of hot weather with a trip to the beach have been warned by Surf Life Sav­ing SA that “in­creased ac­tiv­ity” could lead to greater shark num­bers closer to shore.

The mer­cury is tipped to peak at 41C on Tuesday in Ade­laide, with an ex­pected hike in shark sight­ings across metropoli­tan beaches.

Surf Life Sav­ing SA spokes­woman Sita Bacher said sharks of all va­ri­eties could be drawn to shal­low wa­ters by the ex­tra com­mo­tion of swim­mers.

Data col­lected by Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gions South Aus­tralia shows en­coun­ters with sharks are down 42.6 per cent, com­pared with the same time last year.

There were 122 shark sight­ings be­tween Oc­to­ber 1, 2017, and Jan­uary 12, 2018, com­pared with 70 be­tween Oc­to­ber last year and yesterday.

Only one great white shark has been spot­ted so far this month – about 400m off­shore at Basham Beach, Mid­dle­ton – and was re­ported to po­lice on Mon­day. Bronze whaler’s made up the rest of this year’s sight­ings, in­clud­ing one just 40m off Largs Bay jetty on Tuesday.

“We do ex­pect to see large num­bers of shark sight­ings (but) that doesn’t mean there’s ex­tra in the wa­ter, it means there’s ex­tra peo­ple to see them,” Ms Bacher said.

“It’s the time of year they mi­grate along the metropoli­tan coast, so we just en­cour­age ev­ery­body to be vig­i­lant and alert.”

Ms Bacher said sharks would travel long dis­tances to in­ves­ti­gate “com­mo­tion and had an acute sense of smell”, which made swim­ming while bleed­ing or with pets dan­ger­ous.

This year’s sight­ings were made be­tween 1pm and 6.30pm at Semaphore, Sel­licks Beach, Aldinga, Grange, Largs Bay, Largs North, Hen­ley Beach and En­counter Bay.

It’s pos­si­ble the same shark was recorded in the log more than once.

PIRSA aqua­cul­ture ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Sean Sloan said sharks were seen more fre­quently in the warmer months.

“Sharks are a nat­u­ral and im­por­tant part of a healthy ma­rine ecosys­tem, they are highly mo­bile and fre­quent all SA coastal and shelf wa­ters,” he said.

Shark-spot­ting drones and he­li­copters will pa­trol beaches today, while fixed-wing planes keep beach­go­ers safe on week­days. The mer­cury is ex­pected to dip to 31C on Fri­day. SHARK SIGHT­INGS IN SA WA­TERS (Oct 1 to Jan 12) 2018-19 .................. 70 2017-18 ................. 122 2016-17 .................. 75 2015-16 .................. 38

Picture: CRAIG HUGHES, KRIS­TEN FINCH

MON­STER OF THE DEEP: A 4.5m white pointer near Port Lin­coln.

SHARK WATCH: An ocean preda­tor, left, pic­tured by Daniel Run­dle at Aldinga Bay and a shark snapped in shal­low wa­ter at Nor­manville by the West­pac Life­saver Res­cue he­li­copter.

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