Posted by on December 17, 2004 at 06:41:43:
In Reply to: GREAT WHITES KILL SURFER posted by Mike on December 16, 2004 at 13:02:57:
Since 1977, almost 15,000 people have died on the state's roads. During the same period, one person has died following a shark attack in Victorian waters.
"When you consider how many people go in the water each day during summer, the number of attacks there (are) quite minimal," said Melbourne Aquarium curator Dave Donnelly.
"You're more at risk of being killed in a car accident on the way to the beach than you are being killed by a shark."
You've also more chance of dying from a bee sting or a lightning strike than becoming a shark's meal. But recent attacks in Queensland and South Australia have done little to ease the fears of beachgoers.
On Thursday, Nick Peterson, 18, was taken and killed by a great white shark off West Beach in Adelaide.
Mark Thompson, 38, from Clifton Beach near Cairns, was spearfishing with two friends when a shark attacked him last Saturday.
According to Mr Donnelly, sharks are "abundant" in Port Phillip Bay, although great white sharks are rarely sighted. Another shark expert, Terry Walker, said: "If there's a white shark in there, we'd soon know about it."
Recent satellite tracking revealed that a 2.4-metre great white shark travelled 6000 kilometres from South Australia to central Queensland.
"I have no doubt that they do come and go as they please . . . you wouldn't say that they are densely populating our waters," Mr Donnelly said. "We really just don't know. They are very transient animals."
Dr Walker, of the Marine and Freshwater Systems Laboratory at Queenscliff, said most of the sharks in the bay were "quite harmless, most of the time".
But great white sharks posed the greatest threat to humans, Dr Walker said, adding that some people in Victoria had lucky "interactions" with the predators in recent times. "For example, divers occasionally get a white shark come around, rather curious at what they're doing," Dr Walker said.
"One diver had his abalone bag taken from him a couple of years ago but that didn't result in any injury."
Just last week, a great white shark tasted a boat's outboard motor near Portland in the state's south-west, he said.
The last fatal attack by a great white shark in Victoria was in 1956. Seven people have died in the state's waters from shark attacks, compared with more than 70 recorded deaths in both NSW and Queensland.
Sevengill sharks, which grow up to three metres in length, were common in Port Phillip Bay. "They can certainly do a lot of damage but there hasn't been a recorded attack from that species in a while," Mr Donnelly said.
Bronze whalers also used the bay for pupping. While they had to be respected because of their size, bronze whalers eat fish not mammals.
"It's the sharks that eat mammals that pose some sort of threat to humans," Dr Walker said.
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