Sharks close Aussie beaches for week; boy reports attack

AP News
Posted: Jan 15, 2015 10:42 PM

SYDNEY (AP) — Beaches at the Australian city of Newcastle were closed for a seventh day on Friday after at least two large sharks were sighted in coastal waters. Meanwhile, a teenager was reportedly attacked by a shark 390 kilometers (240 miles) to the south.

A 5-meter (16-foot) great white shark estimated to weigh 1.7 metric tons (1.9 tons) had been spotted daily since last Saturday until Thursday off the coast of Newcastle, a city of 315,000 people 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Sydney, Newcastle City Council said.

Meanwhile at Ulladulla, a coastal town of 14,000 people 230 kilometers (140 miles) south of Sydney, a 17-year-old boy was reportedly attacked by a shark.

Paramedics treated the boy for lacerations to his hand and fingers, ambulance service spokeswoman Jackie Levett said. The boy was taken to hospital in satisfactory condition, she said. The injuries have not yet been determined to have been caused by a shark.

Levett could not confirm an Australian Broadcasting Corp. report that the boy was spearfishing when he was attacked by a suspected 1.5-meter (5-foot) bronze whaler shark.

The state volunteer lifeguard association, Surf Life Saving New South Wales, said nearby Narrawellee Beach had been closed following the suspected attack.

But a volunteer lifeguard championship competition was continuing at nearby Mollymook Beach.

In Newcastle, photographs appeared in Australian media of a 3.5-meter (11-foot) shark mauling a dolphin on Thursday off Burwood Beach 200 meters (yards) from where divers were ignoring the beach closure by spearing fish.

A 3.5-meter shark was again spotted off the same beach on Friday morning, the council said in a statement. It was not clear what type of shark it was or whether it was the same shark as attacked the dolphin.

Lifeguards were working long shifts to warn beachgoers to stay out of the water.

Long-term employees of the council could not recall sharks closing city beaches for so long.

The beach closure comes during peak tourist season with schools closed for the summer vacation.

Danny Bucher, a Southern Cross University marine biologist, expected the great white shark would eventually leave Newcastle.

"As a general rule they're nomadic, but if there's a reliable supply of food, they'll hang around while that food lasts," Bucher said.