Keeping watch over our waterways after recent shark sightings is lifeguard Russell Blanchard at Emu Park Surf Life Saving Club.
Keeping watch over our waterways after recent shark sightings is lifeguard Russell Blanchard at Emu Park Surf Life Saving Club. CHRIS ISON CI

Shark approaches lifeguard

AS lifeguard Nathan Truscott tried to catch the odd wave on his rescue board while on patrol at Emu Park, he saw a shadow behind him.

That shadow was a bull shark, considered by some to be more dangerous than the great whites and tiger sharks, because of its diet and its preferences for habitat.

There were no swimmers in the water with Nathan at the time – about 9.30am last Friday – because of the poor weather conditions. But he fulfilled his responsibility, closing the beach for two hours.

Emu Park Surf Life Saving Club captain Russell Blanchard said Nathan described the bull shark as about 1.8 metres long.

About 4pm that day another shark was spotted, this time at the Yeppoon Main Beach, which was also then closed.

It was the second sighting for Yeppoon over this holiday season, this time in the same area as the last one – near the northern rocks, but a bit further out.

The type of shark was not identified, although Yeppoon Lifeguard Ben Waddell said it was highly unlikely that it was the same shark as the one earlier in Emu Park.

Mr Blanchard said he thought it was just a coincidence that both beaches were closed on the one day because of the shark sightings.

“They are out there all the time, and the conditions were right for it,” Mr Blanchard said.

A statement issued by Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland Tim

Mulherin in November last year said a total of 52 sharks had been caught off the Capricorn Coast so far that year in shark control equipment.

Of the 52 sharks caught, 18 were 2m or longer, the biggest a 3.8m pigeye whaler.

The report said tiger and bull sharks – two of the most dangerous species – comprised more than half the catch.

It was a bull shark that was reported to have bitten 18-year-old Gladstone man John Pengelly last month. Mr Pengelly had been spear-fishing near Heron Island.

Before Friday’s sighting, Emu Park had not been closed because of a shark since Christmas 2008.

Mr Blanchard, lifeguard on duty in Emu Park yesterday, said it was a big reminder to swim at patrolled beached and to watch the conditions, especially when the water was dirty, or when it was overcast and gloomy.

“If you are splashing around in the water it could be a case of mistaken identity.”

As well as the beach closure, Emu Park Lifesavers had also treated a number of swimmers with bluebottle stings in the past week.

“There would still be the odd bluebottle around in these conditions.”

Mr Blanchard said while they had been doing regular drags for the deadly irukandji jellyfish they had not netted any.



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