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WA the new shark park?.
Lets cull the whites is the latest outcry from South West surfers who have presented a petition to members of Parliament.
Funnily enough some of these same surfers were the ones who also petitioned the government to ban craypots in the South West, because they were attracting sharks. Pfffft!
When I mentioned about taking out the ones that are hanging around breaks I drew a lot of flack, by some of the same people who now want them all culled. When i said there would be another attack, everyone carried on saying I was nuts. Well I tel you now, there will be another attack by November.
When Domenic Cadden and myself published about a five page spread in Ralph magazine back in 2000-2001 warning about the amount of sharks on the increase and the banning of cray pots in the South West, no one seemed to give a rats arse, but now, the back flips are happening .
Well the cray pots are gone (just like some of you wanted) and there seems to be even more white pointer sightings not only in the South West, but up and down the coast and offshore.
Big buggers too, not your average three to four metre ones.
To paint a better picture of the white pointer, it has been making a regular appearance more often for us since the Cheynes Beach Whaling Station in Albany closed in 1978 and the protection of the species in Australia since December 1997. Throw the reduction of fish stocks into that and maybe global warming (whether man made or a natural phenomenon) into the equation and when all added up could be the determining factor.
The Great White reaches maturity about 9 years after it is born with it roughly growing around 25-30 cm per year (similar to my waist line).
The female white produces around 7-9 pups per litter and she only reproduces twice in her whole life.
So if you were a Great White born in December 1997 you would be all of 9 foot long by your ninth birthday in 2006.
The problem is not only are surfers, swimmers and other water users being attacked, but also boats, so there goes the presumption of you mimicking a seal, turtle or Dolphin, unless there are 20 foot long seals, turtles and Dolphins, as some of the boats which have had run ins with the whites are this size and note, some of these boats weren't even fishing.
Apart from us looking like seals (apparently that includes you boat owners and your boats who have had run ins with whites) we shouldn't really be swimming at Dawn or Dusk as this is their feeding times. Then why have most attacks happened way outside of these hours?
Also apparently there are more of us in the water and that's why more sightings and attacks are occurring.
Most of the crew I have been talking to have been in the water with only a couple to a handful of guys when one has been spotted.
An average of 7 fatalities a year in Australia is supposedly the magic number, in WA we have had 3 in a spate of around 12 months.
Now the case of shark netting on WA beaches. Have you guys ever seen a shark net? I have and mate I would not be relying on them nets to save my life. Sure they do offer SOME protection on the East Coast, but their beaches do not get buffeted as frequently as us by huge swells and winds that we get over here on the West Coast.
Shark nets on beaches sit roughly in the top two thirds of the water. Roughly the bottom third does not even reach the bottom of the sea bed, where most whites like to swim and hide. On the East Coast of Australia bull sharks are getting into waterways including canal developments by using the opening at the bottom of these nets.
The other problem with these nets are, in some cases they trap other marine life, turtles, seals, dolphins and small top dwelling sharks. In some cases these trapped marine life become food for other predators (sharks) attracting more unnecessary visitors.
So the case of netting in WA is some what questionable.
Arial patrols are probably a waste of time as well as with the white it loves to come up and attack out of deep water or water that has low visibility. A helicopter patrol would take about 40 mins to do the Metro to Mandurah stretch, so what happens if one sneaks in after it has flown past and they miss it? The only ones they will spot is the ones sunning themselves.
There is without a doubt a problem with the recent Great White numbers. We cull Kangaroos, Emus, Rabbits, etc, because they ruin crops or are pests and yes, sure they were there before us and the land is their environment just like the ocean is to the white pointers, but we shouldn't cull them all.
Like I have said before, if there is one, two or three being a pest and linger around at the same beach then something needs to be done about it.
As for tagging and tracking, how many have been tagged and tracked? Just a very, very, very, very small portion of what's out there.
The best solution I can see as feasible is having a string of shark shields set out at 5 metres apart on a long line that floats on the water to protect the general water going public.
The line that floats on top of the water with the unit and the whip Ariel hanging down can also have two wires in it which go back to the beach or groyne where a solar panel can constantly recharge the batteries.
10 of these will cost around 12 thousand dollars (I think) and they each provide a 4 to 5 metre radius of protection, so theoretically 10 of them should give 100 metres in length of protection. Worth a look at and cheaper than nets and the maintenance of them on beaches that seem to have a lot of shark sightings.
Every time I hear of an attack/fatality it makes me cringe and fills me with sadness for the victim and their families.
How many more need to be taken before something smart and functional is done to protect humans from another tragedy.