FactFile: the facts on shark bites and shark numbers

Jane Williamson...
Swellnet Dispatch

Are there more sharks in Australian waters than there used to be, and are interactions between humans and shark increasing? Some Australian politicians have claimed that to be the case.

Let’s look at the research.

The most reputable source for shark incident data in Australia is the Australian Shark Attack file, which is collated at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.

The map below, created by The Conversation using data from the Australian Shark Attack File, shows incidents between sharks and humans in Australia between 1997 and 2017.

You can use the filter buttons in the map to explore the data by year, season, the type of injury, the type of shark involved, the type of incident – or a combination of all the filters. Press the ‘show all’ button to reset the search.

The number of recorded encounters between sharks and humans in Australia increased modestly between 1997 and 2017, but the reason for this is unclear. Over those two decades, the Australian population increased by 33%, but that alone doesn’t explain the increase in recorded shark encounters.

Correcting for the growth in human population in Australia, the data show that between 1997 and 2017:

• incidents resulting in injury increased by 1.59%
• incidents without injury increased by 0.36%, and
• fatalities increased by 0.07%.

Encounters between humans and sharks are extremely variable over time, and difficult to predict. The increases in recorded incidents between 1997 and 2017 are relatively small, and may be explained by factors not related to shark populations – such as increases in the reporting of shark encounters, or increasing beach use.

Are there more sharks off the Australian coast?

White Sharks (formerly Great White Sharks) are recorded as being responsible for 28 of the 36 fatal shark encounters in Australian waters between 1997 and 2017, and are the primary target of shark mitigation strategies of the Western Australian, New South Wales and Queensland governments.

So, has there been an increase in the number of White Sharks in Australian waters?

Estimating population numbers in the marine environment is difficult, especially for long-lived migratory species like White Sharks.

However, there is no evidence that White Sharks numbers are on the rise, either in Western Australia or along the Eastern coast. Despite targeted conservation efforts, the available research show stable or slightly declining numbers in these populations.

There are two distinct populations of White Sharks off Australian coasts – one to the west, and another to the east of Bass Strait, which separates Tasmania from mainland Australia. The eastern population includes New Zealand White Sharks.

Recent work by the CSIRO through the National Environmental Science Program’s Marine Biodiversity Hub using innovative DNA analysis has provided us with the most detailed and reliable estimates of population size we have for this species.

The CSIRO study shows there has been a slight decline in adult White Shark populations since the year 2000.

Current adult abundance for the eastern Australasian population is estimated at 750, with an uncertainty range of 470 to 1,030. The southern-western adult population is roughly double the size, estimated at 1,460, with an uncertainty range of 760 to 2,250.

Including the available information about juvenile White Sharks, estimates of total size for the eastern population in 2017 was 5,460, with an uncertainty range of 2,909 to 12,802.

It’s difficult to detect population trends with White Sharks because of the length of time it takes juveniles to reach maturity – around 15 years. As protection of White Sharks began in the late 1990s, any changes in abundance would only be starting to appear in current populations.

How else can we measure White Shark populations?

The traditional way of measuring shark and fish populations is by examining catches in commercial fisheries over long time periods. By correcting for the level of fishing effort – which is done by looking at things like the number of nets, hooks and tows deployed by fishermen – scientists can assume that changes in the “catchability” of sharks is related to their abundance.

But due to the relative rarity of catches of White Sharks by fishing vessels, this approach is less reliable for this species than the more recent genetic studies conducted by the CSIRO and outlined above.

Western Australia has a detailed measure of White Shark numbers assessed by catch data. A report published by the Western Australian Department of Fisheries in 2016 attempted to model changes in the southern-western Australian White Shark population since the late 1930s. The authors outlined four different plausible scenarios, none of which suggested a continuous increase in the number of White Sharks.

In New South Wales, there has been a cluster of shark bites in recent years. Data from the NSW Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program, managed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, show a recent increase in White Sharks caught in nets placed near ocean beaches.

But when it comes to thinking about shark populations, we should not assume that these two facts are related. It’s important to remember that just because two things may correlate, it doesn’t mean that one caused the other.

These patterns could mean that the animals are coming closer to shore, rather than a population increase (or decrease).

Shark and human interactions: what factors are at play?

A 2016 paper examined six global shark bite “hotspots” – the United States, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Reunion Island and the Bahamas – and concluded that when it comes to encounters between sharks and humans, there are a range of causes at play.

These include:

• rises in human population
• habitat destruction/modification
• changes in water quality
• climate change
• changing weather patterns, and
• the distribution/abundance of prey.

The authors also noted that shark encounters appear to happen in clusters. For example, 2009 saw a spike in shark encounters off the New South Wales coast. This coincided with an increase in beach attendance and beach rescues during what was an unusually warm summer for south-east Australia.

A 2011 paper highlighted the popularity of water sports as a factor contributing to increased human-shark encounters. More people are taking part in water sports, and improvements in wetsuit technology mean that people are in the water for longer throughout the year.

However, there is limited information on the number of people who use Australian beaches, so this explanation needs to be further studied.

It’s vital that any strategies put in place to reduce the number of unprovoked encounters between humans and sharks in Australian waters are carefully considered, and based on the best available research.

//JANE WILLIAMSON and VINCENT RAOULT
This article was first published on The Conversation

The Conversation

Comments

Terminal's picture
Terminal's picture
Terminal commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 10:00am

Uh oh, the conspiracy theorists are going to have a field-day with this...
Seriously though, it would be interesting to look at body condition metrics in the sharks sampled (i.e., emaciated or good condition) from smart drums etc. given that there has been a slight decline in numbers. Also, now that there are estimates of population size, one could also pose questions concerning the amount of biomass required to support these populations (pop. estimate range also considered) based on the energetic requirements of white sharks (i.e., how much fish etc. consumed to maintain body condition). If, for instance, population-level energetic requirements exceed the biomass available there may be a problem and, this part is purely speculative, may drive emaciated individuals to explore alternative and novel food sources.

bill-poster's picture
bill-poster's picture
bill-poster commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 10:06am

No record of attack anywhere near my local break. Wonder if that's a good sign or it means we're due?

dork's picture
dork's picture
dork commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 11:33am

couple of funny things I noticed,
West beach has been placed on the yorke peninsula by mistake
Apparently there was an injury from a port Jackson shark in Victoria.....you gotta watch those port jacksons raaah

Lucinda Beaman's picture
Lucinda Beaman's picture
Lucinda Beaman commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 5:00pm

Hi there, Lucinda Beaman here, FactCheck editor at The Conversation. Thank you for bringing this location issue to our attention. It has now been amended. Thanks again, Lucinda

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 12:02pm

I would love to see those stats broken down further than just "Shark incidents per million people, Australia"

It's a kind of pointless stat seeing the majority of the Australian population don't even enter the ocean or if they do it's rarely further than knee to waste deep and even then for most it would only be for a few hours a year at best.

While people like us surfers, divers etc are much further from shore often fully immersed and spend on average quite a few hours a week.

Id love to see the percentage of risk we are at, its going to be much much higher..i think the percentage would start getting a little scary looking.

Ada gula, ada semut!

deckstrus's picture
deckstrus's picture
deckstrus commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 10:25pm

I've often thought exactly this - but then blank it from my mind and continue to live in denial as it helps me catch more waves....

Jane E Williamson's picture
Jane E Williamson's picture
Jane E Williamson commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 11:33am

Hi Indo-dreaming, Jane Williamson here. I am one of the authors of this article. I agree that it would be great to further classify into beach users to assess the number of shark incidents in a better, more realistic context. These data just don't exist though. DPI is more closely assessing beach use (at least in NSW) and hopefully this will give us a greater clarity on this issue.

savanova's picture
savanova's picture
savanova commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 12:11pm

What does "incidents without injury " mean and how do they collect that data. I've been buzzed by a couple and shared it on Dorsal. I'd see that as an "incident without injury".

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 12:26pm

Seems to me there are a lot of 'holes ' in this story from saying that the no. of adult white sharks seems to be in decline and it has declined since 2000..? what are they comparing this to as i'm pretty sure they didn't know in 2000 or before how many adult whites there were.Rubbery figures? Its quite possible that the reason it has gone a bit quiet on the east coast is due to the fact that the smart drum lines have put the wind up the smaller sharks that have been caught and tagged and they are a bit more aware of humans than before
So its not far fetched to say there might have been a few more interactions if there weren't drum lines.The next few years will tell the story.

simba

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 12:34pm

God, this is infuriatingly poor science and science "journalism".

Missing attacks/encounters from the Byron/Ballina region for one.

For two, and more importantly there was never an accurate estimate of white shark numbers on the east coast at the time of protection.

That makes a complete mockery of any claims of declines, stability or increases in white shark populations.
And with margins of error so high there is no evidential base which can be relied upon to make that assessment.

The only evidence we have is an increased number of whites caught in the beach meshing program, an increased number of white shark encounters/attacks, anecdotal evidence from fishermen/surfers of increased numbers and tagging/observation data which shows at the very least seasonal abundances of juvenile/sub-adult white sharks.

Any other conclusions belong to advocacy and politics, not science.

carpetman's picture
carpetman's picture
carpetman commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 1:37pm

Agreed, although the CSIRO did a good job developing a new technique to try and estimate current shark numbers, the above article is garrrrrb.

Suggesting adult numbers are down but making no comment on juvenile number?? Did it not suit her agenda?

Something smells fishy.

alexz's picture
alexz's picture
alexz commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 1:57pm

They also have misplaced shark encounters in Victoria. One over the Mornington Peninsula is from Portland (but happens to share a common bay name of Bridgewater). Not the most impressive data when the first thing you look at is wrong!

A.Z.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 2:13pm

The editors at The Conversation have informed me that all the Ballina/Byron Bay incidents are accounted for on the map, including those Steve pointed out. Scaling may have accounted for the apparent oversight but they can be found when filtering via year.

Haven't informed them of the Portland mistake yet.

alexz's picture
alexz's picture
alexz commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 2:17pm

I've just commented on The Conversation article regarding Portland and a couple of other issues with their Flinders data.

A.Z.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 2:43pm

Correct, they aren't shown on the map but can be found searching by year.

I think Ballina/Byron would have blown the map off the screen if they included all the attacks encounters in the last 10 years.

Tomy's picture
Tomy's picture
Tomy commented Friday, 2 Mar 2018 at 7:56pm

There was a very serious attack in ballina on 2nd july 2015. This is not included in data.

Lucinda Beaman's picture
Lucinda Beaman's picture
Lucinda Beaman commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 5:02pm

Hi there, Lucinda Beaman here, FactCheck editor at The Conversation. Thank you for bringing this location issue to our attention. It has now been amended. Thanks again, Lucinda

michaelwest's picture
michaelwest's picture
michaelwest commented Thursday, 1 Mar 2018 at 2:51pm

Agree, poor science and poor reporting

Dino_out_there's picture
Dino_out_there's picture
Dino_out_there commented Friday, 2 Mar 2018 at 8:07am

Poor science and poor reporting?
Strange comment considering its a compilation off all available data with statistics showing how that relates to population etc. The science is data and how it relates.
Its a huge point that yes attacks have gone up but compared to population it hasnt.
The data is correct and considering that that there are over 300 plotted on the map I think a few in the wrong spots or not shown is not surprising we all have local knowledge but when plotting over the whole country things become challenging. They are also correcting as we surfers share our local knowledge.
Its not perfect but its a great start and something that could be updated and worked on.
One line comments from private school armchair bloggers attacking articles like this is unhelpful and arrogant.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 8:54pm

"For two, and more importantly there was never an accurate estimate of white shark numbers on the east coast at the time of protection."

Repeated for emphasis.

freddieffer's picture
freddieffer's picture
freddieffer commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 1:08pm

The cynic in this former academic smells a whole pile of generalist mumbo-jumbo here, without being able to establish or prove anything new or helpful. To the contrary, to me, there's a lot of unplugged holes in the assertions presented here.

Quint's picture
Quint's picture
Quint commented Saturday, 3 Mar 2018 at 4:20pm
Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 2:52pm

Commercial diving is considered provoking an attack according to their breakdown.

buttplug's picture
buttplug's picture
buttplug commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 4:49pm

Exactly blowin. The poor diver off Maria Island (Tas), obviously lunged at the shark with his scallop bag prior to being attacked.
A very poor report, long on jargon and short on fact.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Norm de Ploom's picture
Norm de Ploom's picture
Norm de Ploom commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 8:46pm

In the NSW smart drumline program, for CY2017, the ratio of GWS to all other species of shark caught (that’s about 12 different species) is around 2.2 to 1.
Rare indeed ;-)

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 8:49pm

Lucinda @ Conversation team, if you are reading, do you have data from prior periods - say compare 1977 with 1997 and 2017? Anecdotally, on the West Coast they started becoming far more apparrent in late 90's, the attacks beginning in 2000.

hairmick's picture
hairmick's picture
hairmick commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 9:40pm

They have also got the location of the Streaky Bay attack in SA wrong. I'm sure it should be Back Beach

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 10:17pm

So...

Does this count as one encounter, or hundreds?

https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/sharks/rottnest-swim-angry-competitors-...

Garden Gnome's picture
Garden Gnome's picture
Garden Gnome commented Tuesday, 27 Feb 2018 at 11:27pm

Excellent work. Good informative article. Noticed another minor location issue - Parsons Beach in SA is shown as on Yorke Peninsula, it is on Fleurieu Peninsula. Keep up the good work.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Wednesday, 28 Feb 2018 at 1:13am

Why only twenty years ? I have been surfing or in the water for more than that.
The statistics are inconclusive.
I hope this doesn't give people a false sense of security or worse..... insecurity.
Study has holes , nice use choice of colours ...
How about we get these specialist's out of their offices away from the computer. Get them to do field work in the real world.
#Less adult sharks nowdays ?
Really how do they know ?

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Wednesday, 28 Feb 2018 at 6:24pm

Stop the presses ...news reveals the sharks are well fed .....thank god for that eh......

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5254785/port-stephens-feeding-frenzy-i...

simba

Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive commented Wednesday, 28 Feb 2018 at 10:32pm

The decision to omit divers/snorkelers from the Shark file is irksome - perhaps spear fishers might need to be identified as a subset. Perhaps we could omit motorcyclists and pedestrians from the road toll to better estimate the real risk we car drivers face !
Most of the spots the authors cite regarding attack clusters have invoked shark protection legislation in recent years. I do think the CSIRO close kin benchmark is a good thing however- should help resolve things going forward as they say

tomdo's picture
tomdo's picture
tomdo commented Thursday, 1 Mar 2018 at 12:14pm

Not perfect but a good start.

A filter option for type of victim would be useful and easy enough to add i.e. wave rider, swimmer, spearfisher, scuba diver, kayaker etc.

Also useful in future would be a record of any shark deterrent the victim was using and what type it was.

Thank you for not surfing.

Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive commented Thursday, 1 Mar 2018 at 8:56pm

good suggestion tomdo- presumably the have the historical data given they decided not to include incidents.
Another assumption that is oft repeated is that protective factors only commenced with protected species listing. Significant reductions in gillnet effort/shark quotas in the 1990s presumably reduced interactions ahead of listing . in the 80s heard of a big white caught in a gillnet that was still alive but leatherjackets had eaten its eyes out

Feralkook's picture
Feralkook's picture
Feralkook commented Sunday, 4 Mar 2018 at 10:51am

I would have thought that shark corpses would have been sought after for biological examination of their condition. If the net contractors are not gathering a ton of data on each species they catch the research is missing out, size, estimated weight, photograph of stomach contents, fat sample etc. Speak to a commercial fisherman and ask him what his catch is like compared to a decade or so ago and you will hear of decreases across many species. It seems logical that fish catch and fishery management data be investigated alongside shark attack data to see if food availability is a contributing factor. I remember when they first introduced long line fishing in NSW, the volume of big tuna being caught was massive as were the fish but as the years went on I noticed drops in catch and fish size. A fact not lost on the crew members. If the big pelagic numbers are dropping then food availability may be playing a bigger part than we think.
Cheers!

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Sunday, 4 Mar 2018 at 1:38pm

Whilst overfishing for pelagic species might be a factor, they are not primary food sources for white sharks.

Inshore fishing effort , at least in NSW has decreased substantially in the last 20 years.

Demersal and semi-pelagic inshore species like kingfish numbers are up, as are australian salmon and other species.
In other words, there is heaps for juvenile/sub-adult white sharks to eat.
White sharks are primarily an inshore and continental species, not a trans-oceanic pelagic shark.

As white sharks become adults they transition to mammalian food sources like seals, dolphins and whales.
`Whales and seals in particular have all rebounded spectacularly, with some speculating they have reached theoretical carrying capacities.

Ergo, there is heaps for adult white sharks to eat.

Food availability is the common knee jerk reaction seen on Facebook : eg "We're eating all their food, no wonder they are coming in and attacking us"
Only problem is, that's BS.

Feralkook's picture
Feralkook's picture
Feralkook commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 7:19pm

I was aware white's tend to like the seal, I would have thought they liked the bigger pelagics as well as a good baitball. Interesting your note about them being inshore. Some time sit in our wake bubble for a day and half between Fiji and Rabaul. Every meal time when the garbage and food scraps went out, the damn thing would put an appearance in. So food scarcity was my first thought, seems that is off the books.
Cheers Freeride.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 8:00pm

Makos are a pelagic, oceanic shark and pretty fcuking awesome hunters.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Sunday, 4 Mar 2018 at 2:47pm

Also its not as mysterious or complicated as they make out.
White sharks were almost decimated up until late sixties....white sharks slowly start breeding and similar to the whales their numbers grow every year......but its how fast and how many is the going to be the question that will need to be answered....not the so called science of its roughly between 2900 and 12800........on the east coast....

simba

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Sunday, 4 Mar 2018 at 2:51pm

If you are worried about shark attack, stay out of the water. We all take a much greater risk every time we get in a car. On any possible interpretation of the data the risk is low. Yes if you spend a lot of time in the water it increases but only as a lifetime risk. The odds of attack during your 5000th session, all else being equal, are the same as for your first. To think otherwise is the gambler's fallacy. Those criticising the science are wrong headed. No-one has claimed their data is definitive or that their hypotheses must be correct. In areas like this science proceeds by the slow accumulation of data, it does not deal in absolutes. Get used to it. It will be a long time before we have a full understanding of shark population dynamics.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 3:46am

@Blindboy,I think its a little more complicated and convoluted than that ......

Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive commented Sunday, 4 Mar 2018 at 10:41pm

BB - Don't confuse concern over being attacked personally with concern over letting the white shark population rebuild to virgin levels without expecting bad outcomes for coastal communities. Further you don't need a full understanding of a fish species' population to implement management measures. To better understand the population recovery for white sharks will require a commitment to repeat sampling and running the close kin analysis at regular intervals.

Quint's picture
Quint's picture
Quint commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 9:50am

Shark dynamics and population were well understood back in the 1950's when Sir Victor Coppleson wrote his best seller "Shark Attack" regarding the shark problem from the early 1800's onwards, which mirrors the issue now. He had it fixed for us then but his decisions were reversed completely after his untimely passing in 1965' no one ever mentions him. Its astounding. He got a SIR for his work saving Humans not fish. He also pioneered mouth to mouth resuscitation.

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/coppleson-sir-victor-marcus-5776

As this is mere opinion (assuming opinion is still allowed) I watched JAWS again the other night on the "TV". It never gets old. Robert Shaw is electric under duress from the IRS. So I watch Quint (Robert Shaw) with great humour as usual. I find Alf Dean by accident the week before and join the dots. Quint's character could be based on Alf Dean! Some images may trigger so beware. Also here is the Federal Environment Minister concurring on the value of Human life.

The opening shark attack scene in JAWS was also cut this time interestingly.

http://www.whiteburys.com/alf-dean-featured.html

http://www.joshfrydenberg.com.au/guest/opinionDetails.aspx?id=237

Regarding laziness : "Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge" Carl Jung.

Quint's picture
Quint's picture
Quint commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 9:48am

These people add up when we care to look. Bicycle riders the same. We lose 50 a year now. When Quint was a boy there wasn't a bike on pedestrian fatality ever. It matters little whether you like bikes so don't bother complaining here about it. 50 Humans. Same in Indo per annum: 50 Humans. That's us btw. Lots of silence from the greenies on this subject..

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-07/snake-bite-victim-sinita-martin-a-...

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/baby-girl-dies-in-rottweiler-...

My police friend was the first responder to this scene he's not the same now.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-31/girl-loses-hand-in-dog-attack-lake...

http://waronhumans.com/

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 9:13am

Nigel my point is that the existing data shows no reason for concern. Making significant policy changes therefore is unnecessary and unwise.

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 1:34pm

i was in the ocean swim to rotto last week when the competitors were taken out of the water due to "3.5 - 4m" white shark sighting. It was great the organisers did that - in case the shark was in a feeding frenzy and was wanting to mow through the 10km bait ball of 2000 swimmers and their paddlers - but it wasn't interested in humans - it was either curious to see what was going on and just caught up in the action. So after 10 minutes and no more sightings they should have let us back in because anecdotally; those of us that had trained for months were pissed off at the inconsistent management and application of the race rules..main point being if you want swim 20kms out to sea you have to accept you may taken by a shark..but its so unlikely, it's not worth letting in ruin your thrill of the ocean..same goes for every surf I have.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 1:42pm

Team or solo RR?

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 1:53pm

team of 4 stu - I don't think I could ever be that dedicated to swimming training. 3 of my best mates fly over from Sydney ever year and we take the piss out of each other for 2 days. If I keep the training up from here my takeoffs in our NW winter waves don't seem as late!

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 2:10pm

Well there's all the motivation you need for when you're staring at the black line.

I did the Perth - Rotto swim for about six years, it's a great event, not to mention the gathering at the Quokka Arms afterwards. I can also vouch for the frustration when the organisers pull the pin, which happened to us one year due to swell size. Though any resentment quickly dried up on the ferry ride over when picturing ourselves in the channel trying to make a go of it in 4 metres of groundswell.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 3:13pm

Any urge to do the Molokai Stu?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 4:20pm

No urge whatsoever.

Don't mind long swims, kinda seems natural in a way - thigh chaff notwithstanding - but paddling puts your body in an unnatural position, and that's ruinous for my neck. I've got serious degradation in C5/C6, the same condition that ended Joey Johns and Gorden Tallis' career, so if I want to keep surfing I've gotta put my latent waterman dreams on ice.

It's the Channel of Bones loss.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 4:34pm

"Increased modern reporting" of Shark incidents balloons statistics.
Step back in time with (Trove Newspaper site) and count every attack...(An exhaustive list?)
Family tree researchers individually consistently uncover unaccounted incidents.

Timely factors!
1700-1800's
Creeks/Rivers were for most part silted over..thus locking out sharks from estuaries.
Beach Coaches/Rowing/Rafting/Punting to Ships were our only Trade Routes & Transit.
Sea Bathing + Food resourcing by Women + children.
Whilst Islanders worked the rivers the Chinese/Irish migrations were oblivious to Sharks.
In this era East Coast family life was constant with Estuaries/Ocean on a daily basis.

1800-1900's
Trains dumped crowds to feared isolated beaches. Just change (Shark Bay) station name.
Southport + Coolangatta had "Shark Bays"... I'm guessing all your towns had a Shark Bay!

Shipping Breakwaters were cut thru inviting a world of Sharks.
City Motorists could park/camp/fish/recreate at all Beaches/Breakwater riverside reserves.

1900's - 2000's
Expert Trump SLSC Rifle Marksmen tiered Shark Towers keeping the beasties at Bay.
Canals increased residential waterfront complacency.
Boyz Toyz R4 Girlz. Legropes/Wetsuits as mentioned open up sea to every girl & her mut.
Do nails/hair then grab Latte win free Lunch break Surf Lesson. Now Queens of all 7 Seas!
No offence! My point being Girls are fast becoming Shark Fodder as the Boyz.

Buzz Lightyear & Beyond
Super Ministry powers up Shark Shields for Richie Rich's mid Ocean Boardroom meetings.
Today Celeb skegbotz easily repel 100 sharks spruiking B grade Surf product promos.

Many OZ only Timeline factors not mentioned here/above that equally apply to statistics.

Epic comments guys!
Fellow Swellnetonians have earned another treat from my pile of messy files.

Sorry that all below stats' strictly relate to my local waters of Fraser Island - Angourie)
Shark Incidents 1955- 2017
1955 - 1975 were 31 Shark incidents
1976 - 1996 were 20 Shark incidents
1997 - 2017 were 50 Shark incidents (Using this Map for last Statistic)
These statistics marry in with matching data set displayed here. No other reason!
With Stats! (You never see the curved ball...Hit's you in the face then stares you in the face.)

Further back in time! eg: War Years and such...the failed reporting throws out the stats.
eg: (1930's had many Shark incidents while 1920's & 1940's had considerably less).

Off the record! 1880's- 1910 average around 5/decade for same region. (Never accurate)
More incidents from these early times will be unearthed with Shipwreck/Families studies.
My Aboriginal Surf Rescue 1st edit' needs an upgrade. Monumental Shark battles in that lot!

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 9:43pm

Thanks for that, so for that area there's an earlier time period to compare to.

Traveling around Fraser, we came across the story of a beast that used to terrorise the Aboriginal people on the East side of the island, it would come ashore and force them to relocate much further inland. Sounded like a plesiosaur. Recalled by one of the first European women on the island (who encountered it herself), the tale has always fascinated me.

& Stu here's a story on the Maldives, deeply in debt and having the lendor threaten to 'call in' the loan in the form of free title to the nation's property:

http://theantimedia.org/maldives-china-saudi-arabia-uae/

AndyM's picture
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AndyM commented Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018 at 12:50pm

Maybe a particularly angry turtle VJ?

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velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018 at 1:12pm

Maybe a mean loggerhead, but see link below - letter sent to Australian Museum, multiple signed witnesses so that's a primary document. You'd take it with some seriousness unless you thought those reporting it were idiots.

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happyasS commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 7:13pm

people and their fear of sharks make this conversation complicated and convoluted.....the maths on the otherhand is quite straightforward.

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happyasS commented Monday, 5 Mar 2018 at 7:13pm

people and their fear of sharks make this conversation complicated and convoluted.....the maths on the otherhand is quite straightforward.

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truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018 at 2:17am

velocityjohnno those earlier times to compare.
Use [Local Knowledge] as your starting point.
Obvious local factors for this stretch of coast being...

1955-1975 2nd/3rd generation locals affordably openly camped exploring all shorelines.
1976-1996 [m1] Locals tied to burb sports + Resort/Fun park pools attract families.
1997- 2017 Costly Theme parks drive Seachange TB2 boyztoyz to selfie the sharks. It's on!
Continuing...Better Faster Island Ferries/North NSW Hwy bringing more to coast.

If local context is applied at outset then it's quicker to measure scope of anomaly.(WTF)
Best to listen to Local Surfers & Fishermen tales. Only that sounds even more suss?
Velocityjohnno story... K'gari [BEWARE OF CROCODILES & PLESIOSAUR] Please be true!

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velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018 at 12:34pm
simba's picture
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simba commented Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018 at 2:22pm

Loch ness monster on holidayz?

simba

Terminal's picture
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Terminal commented Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018 at 3:54pm

What would be interesting is an article here on human psychology in the context of sharks, that is, why is the public so afraid of them to the point that it guides policy, despite the fact that the chance of attack-related mortality being relatively small. To put it into context, according to the ABS between 2007-2016 there were 426, 692 mortalities due to malignant neoplasms (no. 1 category on the list), 404, 495 to heart disease (all heart disease categories combined) and 7,861 to car crashes. Compare this with 24 mortalities for contact with a marine animal (i.e., not just sharks, but does not include venomous marine animals as different category) and it is clear there is a perception problem. Across all categories, total human mortality 2007-16 was just over 3.5 million, so those due to contact with a marine animal made up about 0.000007 % of this. No one is afraid of malignant neoplasms, heart disease or car crashes to the point that it guides policy, yet sharks seem to terrify us and be perceived as the demise of us all…

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freeride76 commented Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018 at 4:58pm

Bullshit, govts spend millions and millions on trying to reduce the road toll and deal with heart disease , cancer etc etc and other leading forms of mortality.

happyasS's picture
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happyasS commented Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018 at 5:18pm

and we spend millions depleting the ocean of a shark food source. so on the contrary i think plenty of money is being spent all round to reduce most risks facing humans to an acceptably low threshold.

Terminal's picture
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Terminal commented Wednesday, 7 Mar 2018 at 6:32am

Completely missed what I was saying, but not surprising in the least (freeride).

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Wednesday, 7 Mar 2018 at 12:20pm

Didn't miss what you were saying, just think your premise is BS.
ie that this is a problem of human psychology.

As a local and very publicised example people in the Ballina area feared or at least respected (mostly) bull shark attacks which happened every so often, including fatalities.

But no action was taken by any govt agency.

Then a cluster of attacks occurred beginning with the fatality of Paul Cox Sep 14 (in Byron Bay) then another fatal in Feb 15, followed by multiple attacks during 2015 and 2016.

It wasn't the psychology of Ballina residents that changed it was the frequency of attacks and the numbers of juvenile/sub-adult white sharks that had become abundant in the area.
These numbers were confirmed by surveillance and tagging programs.

Again, quantifiable data, nothing to do with human psychology.

On a personal level I knew no-one in that period who died from car crash or cancer but I knew multiple people who been attacked by white shark, and almost every single person I knew who surfed regularly had had single or multiple encounters.

Nothing to do with psychology.

Based on that, Ballina surfers agitated state govt agencies and mitigation measures were undertaken.

I believe these mitigation measures and the local activism that precipitated them were entirely rational based on the dramatically increased risk level to local surfers and not some irrational fear response based on watching Jaws 20 years ago, which seem to be a common implication from both academics and people outside the area looking in.

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uncle_nico commented Wednesday, 7 Mar 2018 at 12:39pm

Pretty confident if you had all the people that drive cars every day sitting out in the water on boards there would be a few more marine related fatalities. The majority of the population go nowhere near the water so the risk to them is always zero.

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truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018 at 4:48pm

velocityjohnno most greatful. (Love to here your views & Have you sourced similar?)
I read of giant beastie off shore Gold Coast around mid last century but never since.
simba! I too got hooked gazing Loch ness sunsets...Och aye! -You just missed him laddie!

Sandy Cape is No1 port'o'call for giant ocean creatures...A giant beast here is less a mystery.
Description of part amphibian serpentine/fish/Turtle Thingy is also akin to region.

Locals/Saltwater crew described delayed returns but seemingly to the same beaches .
As with giant turtles/crocodiles laying their clutches in & around Fraser Is / Bundaberg.
Yes! I reckon story can be given cred if Moah Moah eggs are dug up on the Island.

I bet no one said that before... I get a strange feeling that you won't hear it again either!

A rainbow sea serpent digging holes about the place.(Strictly Dreamtime business!)

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velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018 at 9:56pm

I found it quite hard to source Moha Moha eggs, but they were both large and delicious. Jokes.

A better reply: a historian is trained to look for primary sources, and base any story, or argument as closely on these as possible. I learned to respect our distant elders - they were likely just as, or more, intelligent than us today. So when the sages tell Solon that Greece was very young and the world had been built and destroyed several times (from above and below, ie flood or the heavens), you give them the benefit of the doubt and research further for the most original sources. We're freaking about a 10cm sea level rise, but check out the one at the end of the Younger Dryas... that would have been epoch ending.

Every single interaction and report of GWS is a primary document if those that experience it record it. Today, that would include posting it on Dorsal, etc. Fishermen's logs and diaries are primary documents - all of this is being under-referenced at present (or outright ignored).

In this Moha Moha case the teacher is a botanist, she appears in other documents and even has a couple of species attributed to her. So there's some credentials. Then you attempt to add up the various mentions of the creature by the local Aboriginal groups - and in this case it would be preserved reports via the Europeans who interacted with them or wrote down the Dreamtime stories. Maybe you'll find reference in Parliamentary Papers, Education Dept correspondence, maybe in biographies, maybe someone has already done the work for you and published relevant extracts in books over the last 120 years (secondary sources). You note the fact that several people signed as witnesses in 1891, and that the report has been passed on to this day.

My views - yep totally possible. At least in those times. I recall I joined these Swellnet forums through a debate on whether or not 100ft waves exist some years ago. Many doubted, but I'd seen a pic of a monster behind a ship at the 100 fathom line in the Bay of Biscay. USS Ramapo had reported one about 130ft. Soon after, we dug up evidence in the North Sea, and found a tale of a monster set at Mavericks. Then, satellites began to identify many of them in the open ocean (still incredibly infrequent), and guess what, all the old mariners' tales are true. Now people ride 100ft waves.

Working throughout Tasmania, I noted primary docs that said the tiger was with us, at least until the 1990s. One I read from the 1970s was extremely detailed. Do you write the people off? Some worked on the land and would know the difference, especially when watching closely for a prolonged period of time. I note a report in the media recently referring to possible sightings in FNQ.

The Ocean's a big place. Will we be able to measure the lot, and say definitively?

Like when that second colony of Quokkas was found in mainland WA, sometimes nature will surprise to the upside.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. "

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truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018 at 9:01pm

Terminal' it seems that fixation continues across life & into afterlife...
Holiday Towns flout names of age old Shipwrecks/Mountain disasters.
Fear Factor spurs on Rubber Neckerz/Floody Idiotz/Storm Chasers/Cyclonic Surfers
I'd wager many here could describe what Surf spot'n'Board the Shark victims were surfing.

DWHLD {Died what he loved doing club} Must earn the poor bastards immortality.

NSW Govt spent Summer plotting gory fake news ...
World First Drone Fake rescues.(Deadly, as hovering drone ditches into ocean on next flight)
World First Drone assist in Drowned Corpse Recovery...Yep! Summer Fun Govt' Headline.
NSW Govt Next Summer's Headline...
World First Drone strike on Killer Shark [Vote Now] How should Little Ripper kill the Shark ?

I recall our nipper's club would prise open half dead Shark's mouth with stick of driftwood.
Sip beer down it's throat invite townsfolk to poke it's eyes out for some beer money.
Put your whole arm in for another 2 bob. Yep! The beast is still twitch'n...steady now!

Today some cry if a Shark is caught in the net. We've almost inched our way ahead!

Quint's picture
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Quint commented Monday, 11 Jun 2018 at 7:11am

...

Nigel Nosedive's picture
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Nigel Nosedive commented Wednesday, 7 Mar 2018 at 10:44pm

BB- your earlier post compares relative risk of shark attack in relation to car driving. It does not, like other contributions, make mathematical sense. These risks are cumulative for surfers that drive but not for most Australians who don't venture out past nipple depth. I recognise that we probably both accept the risk and still go surfing although it was probably a bit more on my mind years back off SA.
As other have said we have now had clusters of attacks that have had impacts on several communities. This has occurred when the scientific and management consensus is that white sharks still need protection -this can only be interpreted as meaning there still is a substantial population rebuild ahead. I think the community/human cost is too high to allow this stock to return to its full potential. Fish and shark stocks can be managed sustainably well below virgin biomass.

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Quint commented Monday, 11 Jun 2018 at 7:11am

...

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Quint commented Monday, 11 Jun 2018 at 7:10am

...

OllieB's picture
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OllieB commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 10:34am

Fact - there are sharks in the ocean...

Fact - you have more chance of being fatally knocked down crossing the road

Just be aware of your surroundings and conscious of the dangers.

End of the day surfers and divers alike should understand the risk we take spending higher than average number of hours in the water.

No point worrying about it, you have little control.

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Blowin commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 10:38am

Where do you mostly surf , Ollie ?

OllieB's picture
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OllieB commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 12:52pm

Northern Beaches

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 1:08pm

Seen a few sharks there over the years ?

Lost any mates to sharks around the Northern beaches ?

OllieB's picture
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OllieB commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 1:15pm

No and no.

but I have lost friends in car accidents, and I do still drive.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 1:33pm

Sorry , mate.

Regardless of your position on being a potential car crash statistic your opinion doesn’t carry much weight unless you’re impacted directly by the threat of shark attack.

Till then it’s just a meshed beach pipe dream believing your surfing experience is even remotely similar to that of those who live in areas where attacks are a shadow hanging over the community.

Do you ever even consider sharks as you’re going for a post work surf at Narrabeen amongst the 100 other surfers ? I’d say you wouldn’t . So maybe save your courageous talk till you’re paddling out solo at Esperance on an overcast day with a slate grey ocean . Then try doing that everyday and see how you feel.

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OllieB commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 1:47pm

I also forgot to mention - I also try not to drive on Australia’s most dangerous roads.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 2:01pm

Yeah , I avoid surfing in crowds so you won’t hear me telling others to just suck it up and get over being dropped in on every second wave.

Sharks are a genuine threat to people in some parts of the country and no amount of hollow platitudes from those with no exposure makes their attempts at extracting some joy from an ocean based lifestyle any easier.

Not really trying to have a go at you personally, just sick of hearing the same opinions over and over from those with no real skin in the game.

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Craig commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 2:04pm

I'm with Ollie and feel that I've got plenty of skin in the game.

Surf plenty of sharky spots but don't ask for a cull because of a few cluster events which have shifted location over the past two decades.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 2:12pm

I’m not asking for a cull.

Having said that I don’t see any reason they should be protected completely any longer.

Let’s eat a few and feed the masses.

You seen many big sharks Craig ?

Any sharks ?

Have you surfed regularly at any of the “ cluster “ locations in the midst of a sequence of attacks ?

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Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 2:12pm

Seen plenty of small ones, couple of medium ones, never a big one and I'm in the water nearly every day for 2 hours (that being Sydney) longer on the weekends out of town.

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freeride76 commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 4:12pm

A cull is a bit of a red herring Craig, and quite a meaningless term.

But seeing as the vast majority of your surfing is done at Sydney's netted beaches, in effect, you are surfing at beaches that have localised culls.
Because nets are fishing devices designed to both deter and catch sharks.

So, you might not be calling for a cull but you are party to the benefits of localised fishing devices, aka nets.

Craig's picture
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Craig commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 4:16pm

I'm against the netting and wouldn't bother me at all if they were removed.

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freeride76 commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 7:46pm

I accept that you feel that way now but honesty and self reflection might produce a different response to shark mitigation if your friends and local community were subjected to an attack cluster.

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sanger commented Sunday, 11 Mar 2018 at 2:06pm

Not saying anything pro or con in the debate other than to say i surf with craig regularly at some of the so called protected beaches.... i have seen a big tiger (3m+ ) well inside the nets at curly, so yeah despite the numbers being significantly more in our favor due to the torturous crowds we deal with and the nets the thought of a toothy critter isn't completely clear from the mind.The tiger was clearly not in hunting mode and was just cruising the surface but still 10-15m is close enough for me.

only had one other in water " experience" when i was buzzed down the coast near kiama by what which looked like a 1.5-2m ish bull but i didn't see it for long enough that i'd want to make that identification.

Surprisingly for the amount of time i spend fishing off the east coast i am yet to see a white in the wild and very few tigers mostly mako and hammers.

OllieB's picture
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OllieB commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 2:08pm

By no means am I trying to point out sharks are not a real threat to life.

They terrify me.

My opinion on the matter is just used as a coping mechanism dealing with the dangers in life.

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Ballina Surfer commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 10:39am

Unbelievable!!! No where does this article talk about the "ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST" the great white is falsely enjoying since the late 1990's without proper research. Marine biologist are so bias it is ridiculous! Yes, we do also pull millions of fish from Australian waters every month of every year (southern blue fin Tuna exported in huge numbers to Japan, look at our fish markets in the Capital cities, filled every day!! Oh shit now Ballina has had a massive white problem in the last 4 years! Yes surfers have been killed, mauled & quit surfing or moved from this area due to the very bias scientist who fall in love with particular species of fish. Great, but if you going to fully protect one species you must protect other fish species also. It is a complete joke that surfers have to increase the risk of there lives to make some scientist happy!!! I am happy to surf with sharks BUT on a level playing field. No bullshit laws protecting the top of the food chain whilst will pillage all the fish from our oceans! As a scientist myself the current research is severely flawed & very bias! A proper Eco-system needs to be managed with logic, not emotion. Thank You

chin's picture
chin's picture
chin commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 1:28pm

"Great, but if you going to fully protect one species you must protect other fish species also."
Every state and territory has a fish management plan to manage the sustainability of all the species relevant to the local waters. The effectiveness might be debatable in some cases, but they all have a plan to manage stocks

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blindboy commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 8:41pm

I am sympathetic to the feelings of the Ballina locals and those from other areas where a series of attacks have occurred but the reality is that they choose to surf in what seem to be high risk areas. There is no right to shark free surf zones nor to the risk being equalised along the length of the coast. Sadly the only solution available to those who feel the risk is too high is to stop surfing in the areas they are concerned about. I am all for governments acting to reduce risks to the public but in this case there are real limits to what can be achieved.

Nigel Nosedive's picture
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Nigel Nosedive commented Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 at 10:35pm

Fair point BB, I expect that NSW and QLD will retain their shark control programs but not much new will be implemented for a while.

Quint's picture
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Quint commented Monday, 11 Jun 2018 at 7:08am

...

I focus's picture
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I focus commented Saturday, 10 Mar 2018 at 2:25pm

Blindboy like your practicable view on the issue.

Shark attacks are such an emotionally charged issue as each time it happens an image of complete horror is project straight into all our minds, as Quint writes above the tragedy is raw and all to real.
I think oceans are meant to have sharks in them and their numbers should be whatever the marine environment supports. Future generations that come after us won't expect anything less.

Nigel Nosedive's picture
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Nigel Nosedive commented Sunday, 11 Mar 2018 at 3:02pm

Agree about the emotional charged issue observation, but do you apply the same expectation of returning populations of all species to their environmental carrying capacity?
Maybe the emotion wont leave this discussion because control of large predators usually means culling i.e killing and this also seems to invoke an emotional response or people claiming ecosystems will collapse etc.

I focus's picture
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I focus commented Sunday, 11 Mar 2018 at 10:47pm

In a perfect world............absolutely but reality is it's never going to happen.

Current trajectory on any level the environment degeneration here and world wide is endgame for human habitat thats without talking about climate change.
We cannot even save cute cuddly furry mammals from extinction what hope the rest?

Conversations often take two points as givens
1. The Environment is infinite.
2. Humans know better and can manage a sustainable environment.

I guess to some extent Great Whites are a test as to who we are.

Killing sharks is killing the enviroment

Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive commented Monday, 12 Mar 2018 at 11:44pm

Have you plotted out your trajectories on a spreadsheet, and if so, there are quite a few cults that would appreciate your advice on a date for the end of days!

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus commented Tuesday, 13 Mar 2018 at 7:42pm

Haha yeah should setup my own............and keep sharp objects out of reach.

Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive commented Tuesday, 13 Mar 2018 at 10:06pm

Good come back! there are some indicators both environmental and human which are on the improve. But I do get a bit pessimistic when the neighbouring unit's bins are emptied and hear the sound of lots of glass going to landfill while their recycling bin hardly gets used.

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher commented Sunday, 10 Jun 2018 at 5:12pm

Sunday 3rd/June @ Flat Rock Ballina Shark took a bite out of a Kiteboard. Tooth is still embedded.
Department of Primary Industries is examining both Board & Tooth.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/ballina-kite-surfer-discovers... surfboard/news story/

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher commented Monday, 11 Jun 2018 at 9:32am

ABC article covers effectiveness of nets/drum/smart drum & variation of world practice...
Excellent diagrams & comprehensive research data from origin to NSW reticent smart lines.
ABC Fact Check: Are smart drum lines just a PR exercise? (Last updated 3 March 2016)

www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-23/shark-attacks-smart-drum-lines-fact-check...

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