Six tagged great whites sharks loitering around Evans Head

THE DPI has released a current map showing where its tagged great white sharks are swimming, and they appear to have concentrated in waters off Evans Head.

The waters off this stretch of coast are rich in underwater topography and can attract plenty of bait fish at different times of the year.

The waters also benefit from nutrient upwelling particularly in the spring months when northerly winds blow, turning the inshore waters a murky green.

The fear of great whites is strong among those who use the ocean for play as well as those who make their living from it.

But Ballina veterinarian and master mariner Peter Kerkenzov says humans needed to cultivate empathy for the apex predator because these carrion cleaners played a critical role in keeping our ecosystem in balance.

"We may be seeing a lot of biomass off our coastlines right now, but elsewhere in the oceans marine life is in serious decline," he warns.

"100 million pelagic sharks are caught each year, many of them just for their fins. 

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"Seventy-per cent of seabirds have declined since the 1950s. There are instances of tuna boats in the Central Pacific using up to 200km of long-line with hauls of up to 200 tonnes."

Dr Kerkenezov related the story of the decline of Indian vultures, in 2006, as a result of being poisoned from eating dead cattle injected with anti-inflammatory drugs. The resulting decline in vultures led to an explosion in feral dogs, which took the birds' place as carrion eaters.

The flow-on from that event resulted in a spike in human deaths from rabies. Today 36 per cent of the world's rabies deaths in humans come from that part of India.

"Will some other marine organism take advantage of the decline in great white sharks with the natural harmony of the sea disrupted even further for all time?" asked Dr Kerkenezov.

Evans Head veterinarian Rod Blake agreed that a cull of sharks was not the best answer, but he fully understood the fear great whites created in the human mind, having had close encounters himself.

"I am concerned that there may be rogue sharks out there which have developed a taste for human flesh, and perhaps they should be targeted on an individual basis," he said.

Evans Head professional fisherman Mick McGillivray said he believed the current rise in juvenile great white sharks was the result of a 'perfect season' for breeding.

"All species have a good season at different times and it seems the great whites are having one right now," Mr McGillivray said.

But he said a cull was not the answer at this time, preferring the deployment of nets offshore from popular beaches.

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