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‘Most dangerous’ sharks to be tracked

Australia’s most dangerous sharks will be monitored and shark netting improved, as Queensland authorities try to reduce the risk of attacks.


The state government will spend $125,000 on a five-year program to monitor bull, tiger and white sharks, to learn more about their behaviour.

It will also invest in new acoustic alarms to alert whales and dolphins to the presence of shark nets off Queensland beaches.

Alarms are already in place, but the new devices will sound a longer and louder noise at a lower pitch to make the creatures aware of the nets sooner.

Premier Anna Bligh said although the program would help scientists learn more about sharks, the government would keep using shark nets and drum lines because human safety came first.

Five whales have become entangled in shark nets off the Gold Coast this year, but Ms Bligh said it was a relatively small number considering up to 13,000 whales were migrating back to southern waters.

‘No guarantees’

“There’s no guarantees that this will make any big difference but we need to trial it and see,” she told reporters.

“We do need to keep people safe on our beaches but anything we can do to keep whales safe as well is worth trying.”

Shark control program manager Tony Ham said he hoped the program would lead to improvements in shark management.

“If, for instance, we were to find that some species of sharks no longer interact with the gear as they do now, it might be that we do change some of that equipment – perhaps a net for a drum line,” Mr Ham told reporters.

“That might then further refine the species that we trap.”

Tags surgically inserted

Acoustic tags would be inserted surgically into sharks that were caught and would provide data for up to seven years, Mr Ham said.

Monitoring stations would record data from the sharks when they were close by, and may also get data from sharks tagged in other projects.

The funding announcement comes after a great white shark caught in a drum line off Stradbroke Island was hauled in with a massive bite taken out of it, probably by another shark up to six metres long.

Mr Ham said it was rare evidence of the large sharks that lived off Queensland’s coast.

“I don’t see that it’s a need for more fear, if you like, but it is a pointer to people to remind them that they need to be very discerning about where and when they swim, particularly in Queensland’s waters,” he said.

About 150 sharks are expected to be tagged in three years.

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