They're back! Great white sharks return to local waters

APEX PREDATOR: Great white sharks are back in local waters.
APEX PREDATOR: Great white sharks are back in local waters. RamonCarretero

IF anyone needed further convincing that the great white shark recovery program is working, surely they have it now.

Juvenile great white sharks are moving back into local waters, with 10 caught, tagged and released on the DPI Fisheries contractors' smart drumlines off Ballina and Evans Head since April 30.

Here's the list, gleaned from the DPI website and the Dorsal Facebook feed:

  • May 10, 2.9m white, Evans Head
  • May 8, 2.4m white, Evans Head
  • May 7, 3m white, Lighthouse Beach
  • May 7, 2.5m white, Evans Head
  • May 3, 2.25m white, Lighthouse Beach
  • May 2, 2.2m white, Evans Head
  • April 30, 3.1m white, South Ballina

And to hammer a final nail into the coffin of the trial meshing program, zero great whites were caught, dead or alive, in the five nets spread from Seven Mile to Evans Main beaches during that time.

That's despite a messy dead by-catch in the nets of blacktip, grey nurse and hammerhead sharks, eagle rays, cownose rays, mantas, green turtles, tuna and even mulloway for the corresponding period.

When you consider that since December the nets have also killed dolphins and endangered loggerhead and even leatherback turtles, as well as so many harmless rays of all sorts, you'd have to say that their indiscriminate nature just doesn't cut it in this eco-sensitive region.

About the only good thing with the nets is that the dead rays make a great source of bait for the drumlines.

There has been only one fatality recorded on a drumline in the test period, a white shark at South Ballina.

Typically, the sharks are fitted with an acoustic tag and then taken 1-1.5km seawards and released.

When they pass within range of a network of more than 20 receiver buoys from Tweed Heads to Merimbula, they activate an alarm.

I'm having difficulty grasping the number of whites tagged with acoustic and/or satellite buoys in the past couple of years but I figure it is in the 90s.

That's a lot of apex predators moving in, even if many are only adolescents.

It would be interesting to know how many of these drumline sharks are recaptures or re-tags, if any. Hopefully that data will surface over time - if there is continuing funding for all this.

Ah, the local experts say, but it's whale season and these whites follow the whales and feed on them.

That's only partially correct.

The whales aren't really where these sharks are yet, although don't be surprised if the first few humpbacks show up off Evans Head this weekend or early next week.

Charter skipper Dave Gaden reckons he's seen the first humpies of the season off Yamba on May 14 for the past several years.

And it's highly unlikely that your average 2-3m juvenile great white could do any damage at all to a 5m, one-tonne newborn humpback calf, let alone one surrounded by adult whales of up to 15m and 35 tonnes.

Sure, one sick, dying or dead whale represents a windfall but our "little" whites can't rely on this rare event for regular food.

The whites are here because the inshore ocean is rich with the rays, turtles and larger fish that the mesh nets have shown are prolific at this time of year.

I don't know what sort of sharks were plaguing us last Saturday off Evans Head, but over one single reef we fished I know of more than 15 mackerel that were taken off lines in a few hours.

Topics:  great white shark mesh trial northern rivers environment sharks

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

LIVE BLOG: Two debutants in Blues team for Origin I

Jarryd Hayne will return to the NSW side.

Protests ramp up against Lennox Head Ski Jump

NO RAMP FOR LENNOX: Pictured (front) are Cr Phil Meehan and Michelle Shearer with others who this Saturday will protest the proposal to build a ski jump at Lennox Head.

Ski Jump protesters putting pressure on Ballina mayor David Wright

Unique program brings students back to learning

Year nine students talk with residents at Crowley Village in Ballina as part of Xavier Catholic College's 'Enrichment Program'.

New program recognises Year 9 as a difficult period for students

Local Partners

Grow your own dwarf citrus trees

LIMITED gardening space and/or sick of expensive shop-bought fruit? The our gardening expert has some vaulable advice plus a new lemon variety to try.

First female superhero film in 12 years

AMAZON: Actress Gal Gadot in a scene from the film Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman opens next Thursday

Stories Troy Cassar-Daley carries around

LEGEND: Troy Cassar-Daley after receiving the Golden Guitar Award for Album of the Year during the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January.

You can see him in Ballina this weekend

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

Ariana 'in hysterics' after blast

THE entertainment industry is reeling today after news of a blast at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that’s killed 19 people.

19 dead, reports of nail bomb at Ariana Grande concert

Armed police stand guard at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017.

"We saw blood on people when we got outside."

Pitch Perfect star suing Woman’s Day over ‘liar’ articles

Actor Rebel Wilson outside court on Friday.

REBEL Wilson's career destroyed by grubby campaign, court hears.

First female superhero film in 12 years

AMAZON: Actress Gal Gadot in a scene from the film Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman opens next Thursday

Seven Year Switch: The boner to end all boners

Johnny’s outraged over claims he has a cracked boner.

She gulps. Her face says it all.

Bay to star in Hollywood shark thriller ‘Cage Dive’

Cage Dive, written and directed by Gerald Rascionato, is now screening in the United States of America. It had scenes filmed in Hervey Bay.

And our visiting humpback whales also make appearance.

Celebrity sex tapes: Where does all that money go?

Basically, did Paris and Kim earn fortunes from their videos?

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

REVEALED: Where it's cheaper to pay off a mortgage than rent

6/190 Ewing Rd, Woodridge, is listed for offers $215,000. Picture:

Brisbane suburbs where it is cheaper to buy than rent

The hardest place in the state to find a rental property

RENTAL SHORTAGE: Richmond River, Ballina Bar Emigrant Creek Pacific Highway Teven Interchange. Photo Jay Cronan / The Northern Star

Not enough supply to meet insatiable demand

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!