MYSTERY BITE: A Coast woman was swimming at Gardener's Falls at Maleny when she was bitten three times by a mysterious creature.
MYSTERY BITE: A Coast woman was swimming at Gardener's Falls at Maleny when she was bitten three times by a mysterious creature.

What lurks beneath these iconic water falls?

MOST Sunshine Coast locals would have been to the hinterland's iconic Gardner's Falls, but not many know what lies beneath.

The large pool in the heart of Maleny is a popular destination in warmer months, with hundreds flocking to the site each weekend.

Laini Oldfield had a bloody run-in in the water on the weekend, but she has no idea what it was that bit her.

"I felt three rounds of three strong and rapid bites, in succession of each other. There was a little blood and some minor cuts, but no skin loss," she said.

Social media was flooded with suggestions as to what the mystery biter might have been, with many suggesting eels or catfish.

"I was attacked by an eel on Saturday and there were at least three other people that got attacked after me. It was so scary," Monique Chaplin said.

 

University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer in wildlife ecology Dr Scott Burnett.
University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer in wildlife ecology Dr Scott Burnett. Patrick Woods

Dr Scott Burnett, a lecturer in wildlife ecology at the University of the Sunshine Coast, said it was most likely a protective eel-tailed catfish giving Ms Oldfield a "love nip".

"In Obi Obi creek there's plenty of eels, and there's also catfish, and a whole host of other smaller freshwater fish, platypus and water rats," he said.

"Catfish build these circular nests ... and they defend them.

"If someone is sitting in the creek bed and they're anywhere near these nests, the fish will come and nip them to chase them away.

"It sounds like something really trying to give her the message to move on."

He said the amount of visitors to Gardner's Falls must have a big impact on the catfish, causing them to be more protective of their nests.

Rumours of strange happenings at the falls have swirled around the Coast for some time, many wondering who, or what, calls the water home.

"There's no monsters lurking in there that we know of," Dr Burnett said.



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