Queensland fishermen are reporting an increase in shark numbers swimming in local waters.
Queensland fishermen are reporting an increase in shark numbers swimming in local waters.

REVEALED: Where sharks are being caught

Shark numbers have exploded across the Queensland coast according to fishermen with monsters up to 4m long caught in nets and drumlines over the past year.

One veteran fisherman says he's never seen so many man-eaters in the water and wouldn't risk swimming in open water.

There were 378 sharks caught on the state's shark control program equipment this year, with 67 of those off Townsville.

But data has revealed the numbers aren't spiking, with experts saying sharks are highly intelligent and learning where to find an "easy feed".

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There were 373 sharks found on drumlines or in nets in 2019, however Queensland's shark control program was suspended in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park between September 19, 2019 and February 17, 2020.

 

 

 

 

As of November 30 this year, 174 tiger sharks were among those reported with 102 bull whalers and 55 long nose whalers.

Three people lost their lives because of shark attacks in Queensland this year.

Fish City Charters owner Eddie Riddle, who's been in the industry for two decades, said the animals were in numbers that had never been seen before.

Mr Riddle, who operates out of Townsville, said they lost much of their catch to sharks - particularly bull sharks.

Fish City Charters owner Eddie Riddle. Picture: Matt Taylor
Fish City Charters owner Eddie Riddle. Picture: Matt Taylor

He said he also occasionally sees tiger sharks and hammerheads while bull sharks have been spotted in inshore estuaries.

"As little as five years ago, if we lost one fish or saw one shark a year, it was a spectacle," he said.

"Now it's two out of every three trips, they (shark) take an angler's fish."

Mr Riddle said he was hearing similar things from charter operators along the coast.

He said while he would have considered swimming in deeper waters five years ago, he wouldn't now.

Shark spotting drones are being flown over Coolum North Beach and Alexandra Headland Beach on the Sunshine Coast, Main Beach and Burleigh Beach on the Gold Coast and North Stradbroke Island, until 12pm during the summer school holidays.

Andrew Chin, who is a fisheries scientist at James Cook University, said according to data from the shark control program, numbers weren't spiking.

"We know for certain that some sharks are decreasing (numbers) but our problem is we've never had a long-term monitoring program looking at sharks," he said.

Tiger shark Shayna travels in the waters from Bowen down to Carmila. Picture: Ocearch
Tiger shark Shayna travels in the waters from Bowen down to Carmila. Picture: Ocearch

Mr Chin said he didn't disbelieve what fishermen were saying, but there wasn't any data to show what the trends were.

He said it was possible some populations were increasing while other sharks were learning "what a free feed sounds like" when boats were around.

Australian Marine Conservation Society shark scientist Leonardo Guida said populations of large shark species along the east coast of Australia were declining.

"They're incredibly intelligent animals," he said.

"One element that could be occurring on fishing vessels, is that sharks learn basically where to get an easy feed.

"Where there are popular fishing spots, sharks tune into that."

Originally published as REVEALED: Where sharks are being caught off the Qld coast


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