Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sharks ... What's the problem?

Well, here it is, in response to popular demand ... let's have a debate on sharks ...

What threat are they? How real is that threat? Which sharks are nasties and which are our friends? Where are good places to swim and where are the riskier places? What times? Ocean swims generally avoid shark feeding times ... early mornings, dusk ... so is it all that relevant to us?

We ran our shark scarediness poll a couple of weeks back on the blog/blob, and this was the result ...

Question: Sharks - How does the current meeja hoo haa about sharks influence you on whether to swim in events in Sydney Harbour or in the ocean?

Changes my mind - won't swim 8 (9%)
Casts doubts whether I should swim - 26 (30%)
No change - 29 (34%)
The meeja are shallow and hysterical - 25 (29%)

So, over to you ...


  1. Folks, it's not that hard.

    1..Sharks swim where the food is, at the moment Australian Salmon schools are everywhere. Sharks will be with them. In winter, the big white sharks follow the whales up and down the coast waiting for a weak calf (ohrrrrrrr) and they eat it.

    2. Juvenile white sharks, like the one that attacked at Bondi and are all over Stockton are in transition. It's almost like puberty for sharks, they are eating fish but something in their mind says "Gee, seals would be good".........In short, they are fish eaters but "seal curious".

    3. You can't ever trust dumb bad luck but the best advice is old advice. Don't swim in schools of baitfish, don't swim at dawn or dusk and don't buy the media hype. One shark attack sells millions of papers..


  2. Moose, thank you for your clear headed thinking - what you say is common sense and a good rule of thumb for us ocean swimmers.

    I would like to add I am quite ok about swimming any ocean swim event where we have the safety of numbers (all those egg beaters beating up the water) and IRB engines whizzing around the course to keep sharks away. That to me is quite safe.

    The problem for me and many others I guess is the risk associated with early AM and early evening training times in between events.

    My swim group and I get quite a scare now when we swim into a school of baitfish / Australian Salmon. I am wondering are they seasonal? Will they go away to warmer waters for Winter and hopefully take the sharks with them?

    At Bondi where we swim, there is a net, however it does not provide comprehensive protection and is not always there. It was missing alltogether on Sunday 1st March but I don't know why. Its obviously debatable how effective this is. I would like to think there is more the government can do but don't know what else can be done.

    I am thinking of doing the Coalcliffe to Stanwell Tops journey swim. Last season it was a brilliant swim however it appeared to me there was next to no water safety. I am hoping to hear whether or not there will be IRB engines whizzing around to scare off sharks before I decide whether or not to enter.

  3. G'day Foxy, I swim at Bondi too.

    Although not as much as before.

    I went across for the first time last Wednesday but didn't enjoy it. I read a terrific quote from a Manly ocean swimmer that summed up how I felt...he said "It wasn't enjoyable, I only do it because it's enjoyable"

    The Salmon (and Kingies/tailor) are seasonal, but will be here for a fair while yet. The warmest water of the year is about Easter. As a rule the water temp is at least a month behind the air temp. So at Christmas you have a million swimmers and cool water and the opposite at Easter.

    If it is sunny and you get up on the bergs balcony or from Notts avenue you can spot the schools of bait easy enough. Big shadows with no cloud above it.

    I hope you don't see any, because the sooner all you people get comfortable again the sooner I can get some peace while training at the Icebergs pool. It's all of a sudden real popular.

    Best, Moose

  4. Hi Foxy
    I was thinking about your AM/early evening training problem. Can you get personal shark repellers these days to wear? Are they expensive/effective?

  5. Hi,

    Ocean swims, no worries - as others have noted there's lots of water noise and other things to scare the sharks away and even if there was an attack my odds are pretty good.

    I confess I haven't done my normal North Steyne to Shelley Beach and back training swim for a while but that's more circumstances and I think that when i do get back to it I'll be able to gnore the hype. Mind you, I don't do it at dawn or dusk.

    Whatever we do there's an element of risk and there's more chance of drowning or crashing the car on the way to the beach than there is of being eaten, so I'll just keep playing the odds and avoiding swimming at twilight or when it's too murky.

    And I don't wear a wet suit, seems to me the less I look like a seal the better.

  6. I saw a minute note in Monday's herald about a shark sighting during the Shark Island Swim.

    Anybody else see or ehar anything ?.


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