In a scene from the TV series Air Jaws Apocalypse, from Discovery Channel's 2012 Shark Week, a great white shark breaches on a seal decoy. Sled ridden by Jeff Kurr. Supplied by Discovery Channel Australia. Please credit photo to Chris Fallows.
In a scene from the TV series Air Jaws Apocalypse, from Discovery Channel's 2012 Shark Week, a great white shark breaches on a seal decoy. Sled ridden by Jeff Kurr. Supplied by Discovery Channel Australia. Please credit photo to Chris Fallows. Chris Fallows

Sharks breaching the proper ways of behaviour

IT'S been well-documented in wildlife films shot in South African waters but rarely has the phenomenon of breaching great white sharks been witnessed in Australia, let alone the North Coast.

However, that's what is believed to have happened this week at Evans Head when the Daley brothers, Nat, Joel and Jye all reported witnessing the apex predator display the awesome feat.

The brothers saw the estimated 3-4m shark jump clear of the water, prompting the surfers to paddle straight into shore and endearing them with a newfound respect for Mother Nature.

However, a Department of Primary Industries shark expert said it was rare for great whites to breach the surface.

But it was a normal occurrence for spinner sharks - known for their spinning leaps - as well as blacktip sharks - which are both known to frequent the North Coast.

 

Both sharks are known for their timid demeanour, but grow up to 3m and commonly breach while feeding schools of baitfish.

If the shark was a great white, it's unknown whether a similar event has ever been witnessed on the North Coast before.

In September this year, however, footage was captured of a white shark breaching the surface of Lake Macquarie near Newcastle.

The event was phenomenal not just for the breach, but for the fact it happened in Lake Macquarie - not a usual hangout for great whites, making a breach even rarer.

The report prompted the NSW Department of Primary Industries to unsuccessfully scout the lake for the shark.

Breaches are also routinely documented in South Africa when white sharks are hunting seals around Seal Island in False Bay.

The seals are swimming near the surface and the deep water allows the sharks to propel themselves vertically towards the seals at speeds of up to 60kmh, breaching the water and flying up to 3m high in the air.

This "vertical" attack is presumably possible for all white sharks, but it's the particularities of the prey and location which make it so common at Seal Island.

 



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