RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter at the scene of a shark attack at Cid Harbour off Whitsunday Island in September.
RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter at the scene of a shark attack at Cid Harbour off Whitsunday Island in September.

No hard, fast rules on shark safety

SWIMMING at dusk or on the surface makes you vulnerable to a shark attack, but there was no hard and fast rule when it was safe to enter the water, says one of Australia's leading marine experts.

Sea World's director of marine sciences Trevor Long said our three most dangerous sharks all had different feeding patterns but there were similarities in the way they hunted their prey.

He said the white pointer and the tiger shark usually hunted during middle of the day while the bull shark preferred to snack at dusk.

Following the latest attack on a tourist in the Whitsundays at Cid Harbour, he would advise people to swim in waist deep water.

"It's always been a relatively safe place to go snorkelling and enjoy the reef," he said

"If I was having a charter boat and I had grandchildren, children or friends, I'd be saying 'let's stay close to shore and not go snorkelling over the reefs'.

A number of tiger sharks were caught following two attacks in Cid Harbour in September.
A number of tiger sharks were caught following two attacks in Cid Harbour in September.

"It won't eliminate the risk but  minimises it if you stay close to shore and stay in waist deep water."

He said without knowing the type of shark that killed a tourist on Monday, he had assumed it was a tiger shark because of the number that were caught following an attack seven weeks ago.

"We have to make an assumption it was a tiger given the amount of tigers they caught in Cid Harbour following the last attack," Mr Long said.

"With tigers, they're a dangerous shark and they feed a lot on turtles."

 

Sea World’s Trevor Long.
Sea World’s Trevor Long.

Sharks preyed on surface animals because they were the easiest to hunt down and had relatively no chance of escape, he said.

However, Mr Long said he did not want people to be afraid of going in the water.

"It's not a fallacy (sharks attack at dusk), but it's more prevalent with bull sharks … the majority of bull shark attacks are after five in the evening and before eight in the morning," he said.

"If you look at white pointer shark attacks they happen between 10am and 2pm and if tiger shark are also in the middle of the day.

"They all have different feeding strategies, however all of those sharks like and enjoy to take things on the surface because when it attacks it prey has now here to go whereas when it's in the water it has 360 degrees to escape."



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