Shark sightings - there's an app for that (or there will be)

MEMBERS of the community will be able to alert surfers to the presence of sharks through a new website being developed by a boardriding club.

Lennox Head-Ballina Boardriders president Don Munro said he was in the early stages of developing a "shark watch" website that would ask community members to report shark sightings.

The site would notify its members via text messaging.

The site comes as a run of of encounters with sharks continues on the North Coast with reports this week of surfers being 'nudged' at Hastings Point and a Kingscliff boatie saying his tinny was hit by a shark twice in a fortnight.

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The incidents are similar to those reported in the weeks leading up to the fatal attack on Tadashi Nakahara at Shelly Beach last month.

Around Lennox Head both bull sharks and great whites have been spotted, Mr Munro said.

"The bull shark apparently was hanging around for two or three days," he said.

Byron Bay fisherman Mark "Mono" Stewart agreed shark sightings were at an all time high.

He said older fishermen were comparing the number of sightings to when the abattoir blood pipe at Belongil Beach was still operational, drawing a feeding frenzy of bull sharks.

"There's lots of mackerel around this year… a lot of commercial fishermen have been losing fish to sharks," Mr Stewart said.

Last week Ballina Shire Council held a conference looking at ways and means of detection and prevention of sharks, with options canvassed including regular aerial patrols and sonar "mesh" technology.

Shark expert from the University of Newcastle, Dr David Powter, said the bumping incidents might occur because sharks were investigating prey before attacking.

"Some species of sharks are known to bump, to explore what the item is … (because) some of these sharks will consume large prey which has the potential to inflict injuries on them," Dr Powter said.

He said the rise of shark sightings and encounters was probably more related to the movement of the ocean currents and food sources than a rise in shark numbers.

"If you have a year where the currents move closer to shore, and the bait fish follow, then the predatory animals will follow their prey species closer to shore," Dr Powter said.

He added that it wasn't uncommon for sharks to attack small boats because of their sensitivity to weak magnetic fields emitted by sea life, which were replicated by aluminium boats.



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