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'giant' Sharks Menace Beaches


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'Giant' sharks menace beaches

SHARK patrol officers in Queensland have caught an unusually large number of big maneaters in the past two months.

Rain usually brings the predators closer to shore, so the drought means the number of sharks caught on nets and drum lines in Queensland has dropped to 101 in January-February, down 23 from the same period last year.

But Department of Primary Industries shark control program manager Baden Lane said the sharks had been "significantly larger".

At the top of the list were a 4.8m tiger shark at Emu Park east of Rockhampton and a 4m tiger shark just metres from Mooloolaba Beach on the Sunshine Coast. The 4m shark was the largest caught between Noosa and the Gold Coast in six months.

A 3.44m white pointer was caught off Currumbin, a 3.2m great hammerhead off Tallebudgera and hammerheads between 2.8m and 2.4m near Surfers Paradise.

Mr Lane said sharks were active during warm and rainy weather, and bathers need to beware.

"We are encouraging people to be more discerning with where they swim. Swimming near river mouths, in canals, artificial lakes and waterways is dangerous as these places are not patrolled and sharks are more likely to inhabit these waters," he said.

On North Stradbroke Island, where 21-year-old Sarah Whiley died last year after being mauled by bull sharks, a 3.6m mako and 3.4m dusky whaler were caught.

Mr Lane said bull whalers were aggressive and preferred shallow water, making it dangerous for people to swim in river mouths and canals.

"There are a few simple rules swimmers should follow to play it safe, including never swimming alone and avoiding the water early in the morning, evening and at night."

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