A splash and then 'ducky gone': Is a shark to blame?

WELCOME to Australia, where it seems you can't even enjoy a nice, relaxing picnic without some absurd display of nature.

Byron Shire resident Xanthe Rodgers was having lunch by the river in Lismore, watching an unsuspecting duck enjoying its swim.

"My family was having lunch at the river at Lismore near the boat ramp," she wrote on social media.

"My kids and I were watching a duck not far out.

"Then there was a splash. Ducky gone!

"Are there bull sharks in the river? Anyone that lets their dogs swim in there are mad."

The post has attracted more than 80 comments so far.

Ms Rodgers said she was "aware of ducks going under water to get food" but it "definitely didn't go under (itself)".

"The splash was very unusual," she wrote.

Lismore is about 115km by river from the ocean, and talk of sharks swimming so far inland is not commonly known.

According to australianmuseum.net.au, bull sharks are the only widely distributed shark that stays in fresh water for long periods of time to feed and breed.

They reported females sometimes gave birth in river mouths where the young will live for up to five years.

Other residents confirmed Ms Rodgers query on the Facebook post, confirming there were "definitely bull sharks in the river".

Helen Robinson wrote: "Yes the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas, also called river whaler, freshwater whaler, swan river whaler) is and always has been very common in all rivers on the Far North Coast.

"It is found all the way up the Richmond River at least as far as the tidal areas (Boatharbour on the Wilson). Rumour has it that it can be found even further upstream."

Leonne Scott said she had seen two men pull a two metre bull shark out of the river down behind the huge carpark near the swimming pool.

Others said they fished for bull sharks in the river, but were more likely to do so in the warmer months.

While birds are not part of the species' main diet - usually bony fish and small sharks, including other bull sharks - they are known to munch on birds, turtles, dolphins, terrestrial mammals, crustaceans, echinoderms and stingrays.

Brett Stewart said he had witnessed the sharks eating both ibis and duck, but questioned whether it was a shark who got this particular duck.

"Usually a bull shark will come out of the water when hitting something on the surface," he said.

"Eels tend to come up underneath something and suck it into theirs mouths and therefore creating a splashing sound as the struggling duck or water bird it dragged under water."

Mathew Hatch said: "I personally think it would be a big eel as the post said the duck disappeared... from my experience sharks make a lot of noise hitting the surface where a eel just plucks the food from just under not really making a sound."

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