No shark alert on our beaches
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL and RENEE REDMOND
FAR North Coast lifeguards say there is no reason for concern on Northern Rivers beaches, despite the fact shark sightings forced the closure of several Gold Coast beaches this week.
Coolangatta and North Kirra beaches were closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day after about eight sharks were lured close to shore in search of bait fish.
Six of the sharks were identified as harmless shovel-nosed sharks, but the others could not be identified.
Australian Lifeguard Service Far North Coast supervisor Peter Baird said lifeguards at Fingal Head and Cudgen went in search of sharks after hearing of the closures further north, but found nothing.
"We take a proactive rather than reactive approach and keep tabs on what's happening on the whole coastline," he said. "Schools of sharks do travel quite large distances."
Mr Baird said there had been no reports of shark sightings on Northern Rivers beaches this week, and in the 17 years he had worked in the region he had only witnessed three definite sightings.
"We do have shark alarms on local beaches every now and then, but they are generally pretty rare," he said.
"To actually close a beach is up to the discretion of the lifeguards on patrol at individual beaches."
Lennox Head trawlerman Brad Allen said the sharks were only doing their job.
"The sharks come in closer to shore every year when the water is warmer," he said.
"It's been happening for centuries, but I guess there are more people on the beach. They see one shark and think they're everywhere.
"The sharks are looking for bait fish and in summer the bait fish come in to knee-deep water."
Yesterday, Mr Allen took his trawler to Byron Bay from Ballina, but did not see any sharks during the trip.
If a shark is spotted or suspected on a patrolled beach, lifeguards will blow a whistle or ring a bell three times.