Just when you thought it was safe to go for a swim

I love nature, and I’m at peace with a lot of our animal friends living near me, but I do have one or two exceptions.

The main exception is great white sharks.

So its not very comforting to see that a monster shark alert has been issued for what is believed to be a massive great white lurking off Queensland, Australia, around North Stradbroke Island. 

According to ourbrisbane.com, North Stradbroke Island, or “Straddie” as it’s known to locals, is one of the world’s largest sand islands and it’s right on Brisbane’s doorstep. From the eastern side of the island you can see and hear the pounding surf, while the western side enjoys the calm waters of Moreton Bay.

Evidence of the predator is a massive 19/0 hook  used by Fisheries Queensland  that was pulled straight, sparking concern by shark experts that the culprit  is at least a 5m white pointer, weighing up to a tonne.

The hook was attached to a drum line about 250m off a popular swimming area, Main Beach. It is only a couple of kilometres away from a different line where The Sunday Mail photographed a 3m white pointer bitten in half last year.

Fisheries Queensland shark control program manager Tony Ham yesterday said

My first reaction was `not another one’, I’d be saying it’s a plus-5m great white. It has to be a big, heavy fish at high speed. There could be more than one but it is quite possibly the same one as last year.

To put the hook size in perspective, a 4.8m white pointer was caught off the Sunshine Coast in the 1990s with a much smaller 14/0 hook.

But the 19/0 hook was not strong enough for this predator.

It certainly makes me think twice before I go for a swim,

University of Queensland zoology Professor Craig Franklin was excited by the evidence, suggesting it was either a white pointer or a bull shark.

Our shark populations are under threat. The large ones are most under threat and to be bent to that degree would indicate a large animal

Primary Industries and Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin yesterday said shark control equipment was in place off 85 Queensland beaches to try to remove large sharks.

The straightened hook shows that shark equipment does not always provide an impenetrable barrier between bathers and sharks, however, the use of nets and drum lines is still effective in reducing the overall number of sharks in the area, making it a safer place to swim.

I readily admit I don’t share the good professors excitement, and the only shark I truly feel comfortable with is when they are accompanied with french fries and a beer.

I think I’ll settle for playing under the hose until the coast is clear.

That said, if you are having a holiday in Queensland anytime soon, I hope your stay is enjoyable. Just take it easy swimming in the surf. Make sure lots of people are in the water with you. Your odds of survival are better that way.

[Sunday Mail]

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