Rainbow Beach was closed to swimmers for about 45 minutes on Sunday after a shark sighting.
Rainbow Beach was closed to swimmers for about 45 minutes on Sunday after a shark sighting. Zach Keen

Hunt for shark near Rainbow Beach swim zone

SWIMMERS were evacuated from the water and Rainbow Beach closed on Sunday after the alarm was raised following a shark sighting.

Lifesavers were told a shark was seen heading towards the patrolled swimming area at Rainbow Beach from east of the beach about 10.15am.

After a thorough search by lifesavers in their patrol boat, the beach was reopened about 11.30am.

There are three 186m long shark nets dropping to a depth of 6m, and 12 drum lines off Rainbow Beach as part of the State shark control program.

Last year they trapped 45 sharks, more than half those were tiger sharks.

Twenty-eight were caught on drum lines - 24 of those tiger sharks. The rest were caught in the nets.

 

A map of Queensland Shark Control Program equipment at Rainbow Beach
A map of Queensland Shark Control Program equipment at Rainbow Beach Frances Klein

 

According to data released by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the by catch was minimal, with several eagle rays and manta rays, which were all released alive.

The DAF website says nets do not prevent sharks from entering a particular area.

They are, however, intended to catch "resident sharks" and sharks that move through an area while feeding on bait fish.

The Shark Control Program large mesh nets are specifically designed to catch sharks over 2m in length.

The SCP aims to reduce the number of potentially dangerous sharks in particular areas rather than create an impenetrable barrier against shark attack.

Nets are manufactured to Fisheries Queensland specifications and are 186m long. Most nets have a depth of 6m and a mesh size of 500 mm.

The nets are set adjacent to the shoreline according to the prevailing tides and currents.

Their distance from shore is determined by topographical features of the area and sea conditions. Equipment is usually placed far enough offshore to prevent human and shark interaction.

Drum lines catch actively feeding sharks using a shark hook suspended from a large plastic float, which in turn is anchored to the sea bed. Only fresh, natural bait is used to catch the sharks.

THE NUMBERS

Breakdown of the species of sharks caught in the 3 nets and 12 drum lines off Rainbow Beach in 2015:

  • Blacktip reef whaler -- 2
  • Bull whaler -- 7
  • Common blacktip whaler -- 9
  • Scalloped hammerhead -- 1
  • Tiger shark -- 24
  • Zebra shark -- 2 (released alive)
Gympie Times


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