Sharks to close in after rain

SWIMMERS are being warned to be on guard, as the wet weather could lead to an increase in shark sightings along the Bundaberg region’s coastline.

The warnings follow an incident on Sunday, when lifeguards closed Mon Repos beach after a pack of up to six sharks was spotted less than 20 metres from shore.

Tony Ham, manager of the shark control program run by the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, said rain led to murkier water and a concentration of bait fish and bull sharks close to shore after being flushed out of rivers and estuaries.

“With heavier rain you’ll see more sharks on the move, chasing bait fish and, in this case, probably the turtles,” Mr Ham said.

“Tiger sharks are particularly fond of turtles, but other species are pretty opportunistic as well.”

Surf Life Saving Queensland Wide Bay Capricorn regional manager Craig Holden could not confirm the species of shark off the Mon Repos shore, but Mr Ham said tiger, bull and whaler sharks were all common in these waters.

The Mon Repos incident has been one of the few shark sightings in the region so far this summer, but Mr Holden said it was not uncommon to see numerous predators lurking in seas off the Bargara coastline.

“Last year was very quiet, but the year before we saw a lot more. There could be up to a dozen each year,” he said.

Bargara Beach, Kelly’s Beach, Nielson Park and Oaks Beach are all equipped with Shark Control Program (SCP) equipment — drumlines and nets intended to catch feeding sharks and reduce the number of potentially dangerous sharks found in particular areas.

Both Mr Holden and Mr Ham echoed similar warning to swimmers in light of the sightings.

“Don’t swim at dawn or dusk, avoid swimming in murky water and river mouths, never swim alone, near schools of fish, or when you’re bleeding,” Mr Ham said.

“We don’t want to scare anyone. We just want people to be aware, obey the lifeguards’ instructions and swim in patrolled areas,” Mr Holden added.

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