Great Whites' protected status questioned

2012-07-15 22:57

Sydney - Beaches remained closed on Sunday along Australia's west coast after a fatal shark attack that has reignited debate over whether Great Whites should remain a protected species.

A surfer was bitten in half in a savage attack on Saturday, the fifth such fatality in the region in less than a year.

The man was surfing near Wedge Island, north of Perth, with a friend when he was mauled by the huge shark, said to be up to 5m long, suffering severe and extensive injuries.

A man jet-skiing near the surfers said it was a gruesome scene, with "half a torso" all that remained of the victim.

Local marine scientists have described Australia's west coast as the deadliest shark attack zone in the world and Western Australia Fisheries Minister Norman Moore expressed concern at the trend of fatalities.

"We have allocated Aus$14m extra to get a better understanding of the Great White sharks and the reasons why the fatalities are occurring," he told reporters.

"I wonder if research might tell us that there are now much greater number of Great Whites than ever before, and maybe we should look at whether they should remain a protected species.

"This is a very distressing event and to add to the previous four fatalities, it is of great concern to me and to the fisheries department, indeed the government as a whole."

A tagging and tracking programme was introduced last year and has shown sharks can linger off Australia's west coast for months at a time.

Domain of the shark

Moore said he was open to "any suggestions from anybody as to where we go to now, because we seriously have got a problem".

After the last fatal attack in March, Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett ruled (out) a culling programme, saying it was impossible to protect all people at all times.

"While it's still a rare occurrence, the ocean is the domain of the shark and we go there with a risk always," he said at the time.

Sharks are a common feature of Australian waters but fatal attacks are rare.

Experts say the average number of attacks in Australia - about 15 a year, with at least one being fatal - have increased in line with population growth and the popularity of water sports.

The 24-year-old killed on Saturday has not been officially named but his girlfriend posted a tribute to him on Facebook.

"I'm devastated to let everyone know that my beautiful man... was the surfer who was taken by the shark at Wedge," she said.

"He was the love of my life, my best friend, my rock and my soulmate.

"Let's remember that he was doing something that meant the world to him. Surfing was his soul, his life, his culture and his passion."

  • digger.dighead - 2012-07-15 23:58

    Anyone for shark fin soup....

      christo.stone - 2012-07-16 07:25

      Exactly, Jellyarse. We have no right to kill off the shark population just because of a few fatalities...

      amanda.p.barratt - 2012-07-16 08:26

      What a ridiculously ignorant comment.

      rob.baggaley - 2012-07-16 10:34

      Is one still allowed to use the term " great & white " in the same sentance in South Africa ?

  • richard.t.holman - 2012-07-16 00:35

    Horrible thing to happen but you can't blame the shark. Like walking around a nature reserve and then saying lets shoot the elephant, lion or whatever it may be for killing someone.

      digger.dighead - 2012-07-16 01:38

      It's a bit different Richard...a nature reserve has boundaries and for most part the animals must stay in those boundaries. But if someone is attacked outside the reserve it usually results in a hunt for that problem animal.

      gemmaleigh.evans.3 - 2012-07-16 05:12

      I totally agree with Digger...if a shark is found killing a human outside of the seas waters (it's natural boundry)...then kill it. It's the exact same logic. Digger you disproved nothing. Fact of the matter remains...not only is the sea the well-known territory of the shark, the particular beach at which this occurred is well-known for its' even greater risk! So as intelligent human beings, we cannot claim ignorance to the dangers of the sea any more than we can to the dangers of extreme sport, consuming drugs...even driving on roads. People die everyday due to tragic circumstances out of their can't take it out on a whole species. You trespass on my property, I'll shoot you...its your risk to take...

      SarcasticAgnostic - 2012-07-16 09:20

      Natural selection at work. Hehe.

      byron.wright.102 - 2012-07-16 11:45

      This argument is heavily flawed as Sharks are not kept in reserves. What you are in fact suggesting in ocean reserves, which I am sure was not your point. I like the Durban way we create a "human reserve" in the water. We use nets to keep us safe in their domain and keep them out of our small section of coastline.

      Neil - 2012-07-16 12:00

      Yup Digger. Any shark that attacks humans in their homes, on the street, in their cars, on their farms, in the playground or even on the beach should be hunted down and killed without hesitation

      digger.dighead - 2012-07-18 01:28

      Haa, guys a quite funny, but I think you're missing my point. But anyway I see there are a lot of self-righteous bunch of people in the shark huggers group. For starters ask yourself this, do you spray insecticide in your home to kill, spiders, flies, cockroaches and other unwanted pests? What about mosquitoes, bot jelly fish, mice, rats…all of which have the right to live and form part of the whole cycle of nature. A spider can kill just as sure as a great white can, but I guess they are not as popular as hugging the sharks are....If your child or you for that matter were being attacked by anything that could harm or kill them, would you just stand by and say well that’s nature or would you kill for them? My point is that some dangerous creature must be managed and no that doesn’t mean being wiped out either.

  • Khetha Hlophe - 2012-07-16 01:50

    I think these sharks are from Port st Johns and\r\nCape Town,are South African

      alfie.dunn - 2012-07-16 08:28

      Knetha Hlophe...I also think so, they are racist sharks...

  • Bruce - 2012-07-16 02:35

    When entering The Sea; One is simply entering The Food Chain.

  • jaysonpaul.beckwith - 2012-07-16 04:56

    So now they want to go wipe out a few hundred sharks?? Will that really solve the situation?? It just takes one shark to do damage. Why don't they just kill every shark on the planet?? Humans are very good at wipeing out spieces..we are in there domain,,and should show them the utmost respect they deserve..ENTER AT OWN RISK. Leave the sharks alone.

  • dorette.krugerlabutte - 2012-07-16 06:45

    You cannot go around killing animals i.e. sharks just because some guy went into his territory... It is not like they get out of water and come on land to eat us. Seriously what backwards thinking is that?!?!

  • francois.terblanche.56 - 2012-07-16 07:20

    Currently 180 million sharks are being killed per anum and it is getting worse. Remember the shark is the top of the food chain and keeps all other life below it in balance. Say the shark is wiped out, the smaller fish that were being kept in check get to uncontrollable levels. There are a lot of species that feed on plant/algae and reefs. These happen to be the main source of oxygen to our atmosphere. Yeah go ahead, wipe them out. Don't complain when everything else starts dying. I say wipe out all the trawlers from China, Japan and other nations which currently kill shark, damage our reefs and will ultimately cause a global catasrophe. Source: Scientific fact, Sharks Board KZN.

      Ed - 2012-07-16 09:25

      actually closer to 350m as this number only includes what is quantifiable, based on actual fishery numbers. it excludes all illegal catches, long line catches, purse-seine catches and legal catches where sharks were not the intended catch...

      stu.jardine.9 - 2012-07-16 10:04

      I don't think fish that are being kept in check by great whhite sharks will ever reach uncontrollable levels! However the protected seals which these sharks eat will become more abundant which will reduce the number of fish in the sea even further. One theory suggests that the combination of protecting the Great white and seals has had the greatest effect on restoring more natural levels of seals and shark, We are a long long way from restoring any natural levels of any species in the ocean!

      francois.terblanche.56 - 2012-07-16 11:45

      My comment was on all shark. I didn't comment on Great Whites specifically but yes an explosion on the seal population would cause the same problem. Without getting too technical, the fact is it is disgusting behavour by "civilized" human beings. I agree that the narrow minded idiots should be culled. Nature has always kept a balance but humans, like a parasite take and give nothing back (mostly).

  • Michael - 2012-07-16 08:24

    Is the "Great White" shark a politically motivated insensitity?

  • Jannie - 2012-07-16 09:07

    Surfing = Risk of being eaten by mR Shark Skydiving = Risk of your chute not opening hunting = risk of being eaten by Mr Lion fishing in Delta = risk of Hippo taking you out. LEAVE THE DAMN SHARKS ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • delish7564 - 2012-07-16 09:36

    Very sad, but as his girlfriend said it was what he loved doing and as a surfer he would have known the risks. Perhaps he was complacent, who knows, it's a risk you take. News24, if he hadn't been formally identified, why is there a picture with his name underneath?!!!!!,

  • sanda.mnyazi - 2012-07-16 12:09

    Surfing culture??? SMH Sharks are still going to feed on people

  • ben.louw.5 - 2012-07-16 12:33

    Sharks = more important than water sport. Problem? Go to a dam or wave pool.

  • colline.maule - 2012-07-16 14:35

    and his death..i feel really sad for the family's loss, but I haven't seen any sharks walking on land lately..I DON'T SEE A PROBLEM..STAY OUT OF THE SHARK'S DOMAIN AND THEY WON'T EAT YOU!!!! it's pretty simple really..

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