SMART drumlines being deployed at Ballina and Lennox Head. Picture: Nathan Edwards
SMART drumlines being deployed at Ballina and Lennox Head. Picture: Nathan Edwards

NSW beach where great white sharks won’t go

It may be a popular tourist town for humans but sharks refuse to stay at Port Macquarie.

In a finding that could hold the key to deterring sharks from popular swimming areas in the future, researchers taking part in the state government's five-year shark management program have discovered that great whites do not spend any time around the mid-north coast town.

Despite the VR4G shark buoy detecting a record number of great whites swimming past, not one stopped and spent time in the area.

Researchers are actively tracking 450 great whites as part of the five-year program. Picture: NSW Department of Primary Industries
Researchers are actively tracking 450 great whites as part of the five-year program. Picture: NSW Department of Primary Industries

Located 500m offshore from the Port Macquarie Life Saving Club, the buoy is one of 21 recording tagged shark movements from Tweed Heads down to Merimbula.

 

NSW Department of Primary Industries shark biologist Dr Paul Butcher said while the buoy recorded the greatest number of sharks swimming past, the data showed none stopped by.

This compared with data from other buoys that found some sharks spent as long as a week or more in one area.

Dr Butcher said the large number of sharks swimming past the buoy suggested it could be part of a great white "corridor".

As for why the sharks did not stay, environmental conditions such as sunlight, water temperature and currents could be to blame.

"Port Macquarie is the area which all animals appear to pass by, but don't spend any time there," he said.

 

SMART drumlines being deployed at Ballina and Lennox Head. Picture: Nathan Edwards
SMART drumlines being deployed at Ballina and Lennox Head. Picture: Nathan Edwards

"We don't know why they don't stop there.

"We have just finished collecting data and will have more information in a few weeks' time."

Despite great whites having an apparent aversion to Port Macquarie, Dr Butcher said he was not prepared to call it "safe".

"The buoy recorded the highest numbers of sharks swimming by, so they are around," he said.

"They just didn't hang around."

The station at Port Macquarie has recorded record numbers of great whites swimming past, but none staying of any period of time Picture: Nathan Edwards
The station at Port Macquarie has recorded record numbers of great whites swimming past, but none staying of any period of time Picture: Nathan Edwards

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