No bull, sharks are in the river

By MARY MANN ANDREW FAIR has never been afraid of swimming at Ballina before, but since seeing five bull sharks circling in the Richmond River under Missingham Bridge he has vowed to only swim where he can see what's beneath him.

The Lismore Heights man was walking over the bridge after swimming at Shelly Beach last Thursday when something caught his eye down below.

When Mark looked over the bridge he saw a group of grey/brown sharks, about one-and-a-half metres in length, 'circling in the murky water'.

"I've seen sharks out to sea but never in the river before," he said.

"It gave me a bit of a surprise, I wasn't sure what to do but I thought I'd better warn people so they didn't swim in there."

Southern Cross University's senior lecturer in fisheries and marine biology, Daniel Boucher, agreed now was not the best time to be swimming in murky water.

He said it was not uncommon for bull sharks to swim into the rivers, but that it was likely the recent fish kill had brought the sharks Andrew spotted into the Richmond.

"They've been known to go right up into fresh water, even as far as Coraki in the past," Mr Boucher said.

"Bull sharks are scavengers as well as predators, so with the fish kill it's likely they were drawn into the river to eat all the dead fish.

"They're probably just hanging around waiting to see if there will be any more."

Ken Thurlow, CEO of ECOfishers, said bull sharks were a particularly nasty variety of the shark family and warned people not to swim in murky parts of the river.

He said they were aggressive and known to attack humans, cattle and dogs.

"They're totally non-selective with what they choose to eat," he said. "Missingham bridge is a popular swimming spot but at low tide the river is still quite murky as dirty water is still coming downstream from the floods, making it an ideal place for the sharks."

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