Stab Magazine | This week in Sharks: More sightings and justified paranoia!
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This week in Sharks: More sightings and justified paranoia!

Has there ever been a worse time to be a surfer? Aside from all the recent Chopes nonsense that does nothing for public image, there’s the fact that sharks everywhere have been stepping up their game. Mick Fanning really put it on the map, but things have been terrifying in Reunion Island, West Oz, South […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Has there ever been a worse time to be a surfer? Aside from all the recent Chopes nonsense that does nothing for public image, there’s the fact that sharks everywhere have been stepping up their game. Mick Fanning really put it on the map, but things have been terrifying in Reunion Island, West Oz, South Africa and more for a long time. And the last 12 months have seen new locations added to the ‘must watch’ list (and not the good kind), like Newcastle and more recently, Ballina and Lennox Head. Right now, it’s hard to trawl the Interwebs without at least one trending sidebar mentioning the word ‘shark’. And here’s what they were talking about in the past week…

– Reunion Island continues attempts to regain a little safety at their surf spots. In October, a 700-yard net will be installed at Boucan Canot, with a 600m version at Roches Noirs. Eight new ‘vigis’ are being trained – they’re the guys that swim around underneath surfers with harpoon guns, on the lookout for sharks… yeah. There’s also a system of ‘smart’ drumlines, which send realtime info and allow scientists to fish only for bull sharks, which aren’t endangered. Shark researcher Geremy Cliff, from the KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board, says Reunion should begin properly fishing again, even with opposition from activists. Full article here.

– Main Beach at Byron Bay was closed on Saturday when beachgoers spotted a shark near Wategos at around 10am. Lifeguards patrolled the area closely but nothing was sighted, and the beach was eventually re-opened. Perhaps it was a dolphin. But, perhaps not.

– And a little further south, around Ballina and Lennox Head… an Air T&G chopper has been doing regular shark surveillance patrols along the coastline since the attacks ramped up in recent weeks. And last week, it spotted a shark near Lennox point. Surfers were evacuated and Lennox Head beach was closed for two hours. An hour later, police responded to reports that a large shark was swimming just off South Golden Beach close to swimmers (like, 20m from the shoreline).

– While we’re in the Lennox area: Locals are undergoing the same feels and debates that coastal West Oz residents went through during the spate of attacks there over the last few years: To cull, or not to cull. Two days ago, two very big sharks were spotted at Lighthouse Beach, the same place that Matt Lee was attacked last month. James Woods is among a growing number of locals who support a catch and kill policy, telling the Daily Telegraph: “If a dog bites a person, you put it down, so why don’t we do the same for sharks.” Jimmy’s also had to incorporate shark education into his surf school lessons. “When I was a kid going out to surf, we never had to think about getting eaten by a shark. It’s a worry because if one of these kids gets attacked, they won’t survive, a shark would have them in just one bite.”
Local surf businesses are said to be suffering from a drop in board and wetsuit sales. Locals are reluctant to go in the water. In short, being a surfer in the area right now is shit. With no clear solutions (that don’t wildly impact the environment) on the cards, many are looking to a cull. But not everyone, and certainly not the Greens. “Mick Fanning’s comments were telling when he said he wouldn’t condone the killing of sharks,” said Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith. “There is money on the table to trial non-lethal deterrents and we are working to ensure Ballina is included in those trials.”

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