Monsters of the deep
KAYAKERS enjoying watching whales and dolphins play at Byron Bay got more than their money's worth last Sunday when a four-metre great white shark surfaced near them and bared its teeth.
The sightseers were reportedly "very excited" at being the subject of the creature's curiosity, though naturally relieved it didn't take any greater interest in them.
The incident occurred near the "Bombie", a collection of rocks in the water off the cape, near Little Wategos.
The Cape Byron Kayaks guides told the party to group together and made some efforts to see the shark off, but it circled them several times before obliging.
The incident was the second up-close sighting of a great white last weekend.
Just after 8am on Sunday, Geoff Bensley was swimming 100 to 150 metres offshore between the Pass and the surf club - something he does several times a week - when a two-metre white passed close by.
"It was easy to see it was a great white. It was a beautiful looking shark, with a white belly and a distinct line between the white and the grey. It had a straight dorsal fin which is a characteristic of the species," Mr Bensley said.
"I started yelling at my mate, who was another 50m offshore but he couldn't hear."
The near brush had "shaken him up", Mr Bensley said.
"I'm going to keep my fingers in the sand for the next few months."
It was the first time the Byron Bay electrician had seen a great white - and of that size - in the 19 years he has been doing the swim.
Cape Byron Marine Park manager Andrew Page said sightings of great whites were common at this time of year and coincided with the journey south of whales and their young.
As the water becomes warmer, sightings would grow less and less, he said.
Great whites are no strangers to Byron's waters. In August, a fisherman saw three of them near The Wreck at Belongil Beach. One four-metre shark circled his boat for half an hour.
HOW TO AVOID BEING EATEN
- Don't swim too far from shore
- Swim in groups
- Avoid swimming and surfing when it's dark or at twilight
- Avoid murky water, waters with known effluents or sewage
- Avoid areas with signs of baitfish or fish-feeding activity
- Dolphins do not indicate the absence of sharks - both often feed together on the same food
- Avoid swimming in canals or in river or harbour mouths