Shark alert: two beaches evacuated in 24-hours
TWO north coast beaches have been evacuated in the last 24-hours due to shark sightings, with swimmers told to get out of the waters at Casuarina and Cosy Corner beaches.
At 9.36am Saturday, two people were evacuated at Casuarina Beach, where a 2.5 metres bull shark was spotted by a Department of Primary Industries helicopter.
Sunday, about 8.20am, two 2.8 metres bull sharks were seen at Cosy Corner - an patrolled beach near Byron Bay lighthouse - with several swimmers evacuated out of the water.
A DPI spokeswoman said the two evacuations were "not unusual" given the recent increase in aerial surveillance being conducted in the area.
Bull sharks are also on the move from northern Queensland to NSW, with the warming of the waters.
"NSWDPI conducts regular aerial surveillance on the Far North Coast every weekend and during the school holidays, weather permitting," a DPI spokeswoman said.
"More shark sightings are being reported because of increased aerial surveillance by NSWDPI along the NSW coast.
"It is not unusual to spot a vast range of different species of sharks at any time of the year.
"When a shark is seen that may pose a potential danger to beachgoers, the helicopter sounds its horn and uses a loud speaker to warn people from the water.
"SurfComm (SLS surf communications) are also alerted to inform the local surf club and assist in managing the situation."
Also on Saturday, about 9.30am, five unidentified sharks between 2 and 2.5 metres in size were spotted between Lennox Head surf Life Saving Club and Lake Ainsworth.
Dorsal Shark Reports founder Allan Bennetto said reports of tagged and untagged sharks along the North Coast have increased over the last week.
"The DPI have increased their surveillance, so naturally when you have more aerial reports from a helicopter and more community response, you'll see more reports of sightings," Mr Bennetto said.
"Yesterday we had quite a few reports from aerial surveillance, we haven't seen reports like that for a few days before that.
"I think it might be just the perfect storm of new surveillance services coming through with increasing shark numbers."
A NSW Surf Life Saving spokesperson said several beaches along the North Coast, including Byron Bay, were closed on Saturday afternoon due to thunderstorms.
On Sunday all beaches are open with good weather expected.
Warming of the waters creates plankton blooms which may cause the water visibility to decrease as the water turns green.
Bull sharks enter rivers and will regularly patrol turbid waters after heavy rains to catch fish washed down into the sea.
This is why the NSW DPI SharkSmart app checks the colour of the water as part of its risk calculator.