Shark sighting cuts swim short
OUTRIGGERS put safety before curiosity when a large, dark shadow loomed close to their canoe while they were paddling at Scarness.
The possibility that the dark underwater form could be a four-metre shark signalled the end of the junior outrigging session.
Among the young Fraser Coast outriggers was Hervey Bay mum Michelle Alexander’s daughter Courtney, 11.
Michelle said she didn’t know what to think when she first heard Courtney’s story.
“I thought my daughter was seeing things.
“But she said she definitely saw something in the water.”
The junior outriggers were just about to get into the water for a swim when they noticed the large shadow.
Coach Lynn Nayda decided it wasn’t worth the risk and brought the juniors into shore.
“I asked Courtney if it may have been a dolphin.
“She said it wasn’t a dolphin, a turtle or a dugong. They thought it was definitely a shark.”
Michelle said it wouldn’t stop the young outriggers from getting back in the water.
“They know it’s a one-in-a-million chance that anything would happen.”
Ross Wolff, from Hervey Bay Reefworld, said there was a strong possibility that what the outriggers had seen was a shark.
“It’s not really anything to worry about – I think our last shark attack was about 60 years ago.”
Mr Wolff said it wasn’t unusual to see sharks feeding in the shallows at Scarness, although it was usually at dusk and sharks as big as four metres were a bit unusual.
The mouths of rivers and creeks and estuaries were the places where people should be cautious in the water, Mr Wolff said.
Mr Wolff said it wasn’t unusual to see young hammerheads in the waters off Scarness.
“They can be quite territorial,” Mr Wolff said, adding that the creature that swam near the canoe could have been a hammerhead.
He said he sympathised with the shock that came with seeing a large shark.
“There’s nothing more unnerving than seeing a shark that’s bigger than your boat.”