South African shark spotters (pictured from left) field manager Monwabisi Sikweyiya and project manager Sarah Waries at Boulder Beach. The pair were surveying locations from Byron Bay to Evans Head for their suitability for shark spotting.
South African shark spotters (pictured from left) field manager Monwabisi Sikweyiya and project manager Sarah Waries at Boulder Beach. The pair were surveying locations from Byron Bay to Evans Head for their suitability for shark spotting. Hamish Broome

Lennox Point could be good for shark spotting, experts say

TWO South African shark spotting experts touring the North Coast this week say there is good potential for the system at some locations across the region.

 As part of a two-week tour of Australia, Sarah Waries and Monwabisi Sikweyiya yesterday surveyed potential shark spotting sights around Byron Bay, Lennox Head, Ballina and Evans Head.

They also spoke at a forum last night at Dunes on Shelly Beach giving an overview of the spotting program and other recommendations for shark safety on the North Coast.

In the Cape Town area of South Africa, Ms Waries said the shark spotting intiative had been "very successful", with 2000 shark sightings since 2004 across eight beaches and a dramatic reduction in the fear of sharks by beach users.

But she also said there was "no silver bullet" for preventing shark attacks and the system only worked under certain conditions.

Successful spotting needed elevation, good water quality, and beach users quite close to shore to work effectively.

As such, Lennox Point, Boulder Beach, Broken Head, Wategos and The Pass showed good potential.

On the other hand, shark encounter hotspot Lighthouse Beach was not appropriate due to the lack of elevation and the poor water quality at present associated with rain runoff. 

The next step for potential locations would be a feasbility study requiring a spotter to spend at least two weeks at the sites in a range of conditions.

"You really can't tell until you've seen what conditions are like over a long period of time and what the most prevailing conditions are," Ms Waries explained.

"It is all very site specific."  

Other intiatives recommended by the pair were the availability of shark attack first aid kits, which include potentially life saving items such as tourniquets and pressure bandages to stem bleeding from traumatic wounds, and the use of scientific research to provide real-time information about marine activity across the coast.

"There is no silver bullet for preventing shark attacks and we don't think we have one," Ms Waries said.

"Hopefully people here can take some lessons from what we've learned and apply it where it's possible."



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