A surfer suffered puncture wounds to his leg and his board was damaged after encounter with shark at Broken Head on Monday, October 24 2016
A surfer suffered puncture wounds to his leg and his board was damaged after encounter with shark at Broken Head on Monday, October 24 2016 contributed

Scientists clueless on why shark attacks on the rise

A UNIVERSITY research project spanning three years, looking into unprovoked shark attacks around the world, has no definitive answer on why attacks are concentrated on the North Coast.

Bond University associate professor Daryl McPhee and Dr Blake Chapman studied trends at international attack "hot spots” including Australia, Brazil, the Bahamas, South Africa and the US.

The research scientists concluded there was "no commonality between what happens at those locations, besides the actual shark attacks”.

"There's no magic bullet in terms of understanding why there has been an increase in attacks,” Dr McPhee said.

"Generally, the North Coast is a very productive stretch of beach and probably has been for a while. Sharks are a very good indicator of a healthy marine environment.”

The researchers plan to study the psychology of shark fear for their next project.

"There's a whole range of things that are statistically more likely to cause you much more misery than shark attacks, such as domestic violence and bowel cancer,” Dr McPhee said.

"But we disproportionally focus our fears on sharks.”

Dr McPhee's top nine tips for avoiding sharks:

1. Don't swim with large schools of fish or bait fish. If birds are diving into the water, that indicates a bait ball.

2. Don't wear clothing or have equipment which creates a colour contrast because sharks are colourblind but they see contrasts very well.

Sharks are less likely to see you if you're wearing more neutral colours.

3. Don't wear flashy or shiny jewellery. If you want to catch fish you would have something that's flashy - fish are attracted to anything that flashy in water.

4. Having your period doesn't attract sharks. There's not enough blood in the water. I get asked that in lectures all the time.

5. Swim between the flags because lifesavers can spot the sharks land can also provide first aid.

6. Dirty water is a big one to avoid, it creates a good environment for bull sharks for feeding. For the same reason you'd avoid being adjacent to any river mouth after rain.

7. Surfers should be staying in groups.

8. Dawn and dusk are a more active period for animals to feed , they're adapted to feed at those times because it creates a different type of environment for hunting.

9. Don't swim or surf alone.



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