A MARINE expert fears public complacency could lead to a shark attack in Gold Coast waters or Moreton Bay during the summer holidays.

Dr Daryl McPhee, an associate professor of environmental science at Bond University, yesterday warned that people were shrugging off the risks of swimming at dawn, dusk and in murky waters because there had not been a shark bite incident in our region in recent years.

"If enough people keep going into these high-risk areas and continue to be complacent, we are likely to see a bite," he said.

 

Dr Daryl McPhee is an associate professor of environmental science at Bond University.
Dr Daryl McPhee is an associate professor of environmental science at Bond University.

Dr McPhee cited Amity Point on North Stradbroke Island as well as the Gold Coast's canal system.

He said he had many snorkellers and spearfishers recently at Amity Point, which is known for large bull sharks and large whalers, and where a young woman was killed in an attack 13 years ago.

Those on the Gold Coast canals should not be complacent. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT
Those on the Gold Coast canals should not be complacent. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

"Amity Point is the site of one of the more horrendous shark attacks in recent history, and yet you see people swimming, snorkelling and fishing at the wrong times of day in very low vision waters," Dr McPhee said.

"There doesn't seem to be a lot of shark awareness out there.''

"Bull sharks are also very prevalent in our canals on the Gold Coast.

"If enough people go into the canals there will be more bites at this time of year."

At Amity Point in 2006, Brisbane woman Sarah Kate Whiley, 21, died when she was mauled by up to three bull sharks. Police said she lost both arms and had bite wounds to her torso and legs.

On the Gold Coast, two men died in bull shark attacks while swimming in lakes at Miami and Burleigh, in 2002 and 2003 respectively.

Dr Mc Phee said water users could take steps to minimise the risk of attack.

"Avoid being in the water at dawn or dusk, which are feeding times, and when there is lower visibility in the water," he said.

Gold Coast paddleboarder Troy Pease, who trains in the often murky canals most mornings, said he and his team always trained together to avoid danger.

"It is their (shark's) domain after all, but that won't stop us going in," he said.

"We minimise the risk in every way we can, but I have seen mainly tourists being complacent and swimming alone."



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