Just days after Streaky bay surfer and fisherman, Jeff Schmucker warned of exploding numbers of Great Whites in the waters off Streaky Bay, South Australia, a surfer has been attacked.
A 48 year old man was bitten on the arm at 2.40 pm today while surfing Back Beach, near Streaky Bay – the sixth attack in Australia in the last 12 months. Jeff was on the beach shooting photos when it happened.
“I was shooting three surfers in the water … and every time a set came in I’d snap a couple of photos, but then those guys just disappeared,” he said. ”They all went in at once, so that was a little strange.” Upon learning an attack had occurred, Jeff called emergency services.
“He had lacerations on his wetsuit from his hip to his shoulder on his right side,” he said. “The guys … said they thought his injuries were possibly life threatening so I ran back up to call the police back.” The attack backs Jeff’s claim that shark numbers have experienced a huge increase in recent years. “We’re not killing the sharks anymore. We’re not knocking them off. They’re a protected species,” he says.
Jeff, who was formerly a large gill net fisherman before it was outlawed to protect dolphins and sharks, also points out that the practice of blood letting by tuna fishing vessels involved in the annual and ongoing harvest at nearby Port Lincoln is known to lure sharks closer to shore.*
“At the moment in Port Lincoln they’re harvesting 5000 tonnes of Tuna. Blood is going over the side, no food is going over the side. There’s two or three pointers around every processing boat and two or three ships taking tuna back to Japan and three or four pointers around every operation,” he says.
Streaky Bay has long been known for the huge Great Whites, as well as some of the best waves in Australia and the world. At the local petrol station you can stick your head inside the life size model of a 5.2 meter, 1520 kilogram shark, which was caught here in 1990. The catch briefly held the world record for the largest Great White caught by rod and reel, until an investigation found a baby sea lion had been used as bait and the record was stripped.
Until now, Jeff believes an exploding population of fur seals has prevented shark attacks in the area. “The food supply of these pointers is alive and well, which probably gives us some solace surfing, really,” he says.
The last time the waters near Streaky Bay endured a spate of shark attacks was in 2000 when two surfers were killed in a week. Just like today, conditions were small, something Jeff says drastically heightens the chances of being attacked.
“That’s the wrong time to be surfing on this part of the coast I reckon. In my experience you won’t see (Great Whites) when the swell is pumping and there is lots of noise and aerated water. It’s when it’s flat and sharks are coming to pick up dead carcasses hanging around the near shore reefs,” he says. - Jed Smith
Here an in-depth interview with Jeff about sharks and surfing in South Australia at the 16 minute mark of the podcast below.