Sharks out in force

By MURRAY SIMPSON

PACKS of sharks closed beaches on the Gold Coast yesterday for the second day running.

More than 100 large sharks, including hammerheads at the northern end of the coast, forced the closure of beaches on Saturday afternoon, with more than 100 bathers having to leave the water.

On Saturday sharks moved to within 10 metres of the shore, forcing the closure of beaches on a 5km stretch from Surfers Paradise to the Sheraton Hotel south of the Seaway on The Spit.

Gold Coast lifeguards said the sharks were attracted by a huge school of bait fish that passed by at about 2pm on Saturday.

And yesterday smaller schools of bait fish passed through, causing the closure of Southport beach three times during the morning.

"We spotted about 40 sharks today following the schools through," said Surf Life Saving Queensland duty officer Sue Neil.

"We've had the bait fish around for about a week now, right down to the Tweed Coast," she said.

"But this is the first time we've seen the sharks. The word seems to have got out.

"So far we've had no reports of sharks off southern beaches."

Ms Neil said efforts to put a helicopter in the air yesterday to check on the sharks were frustrated by stormy weather.

On the Tweed Coast the Far North Coast surf lifesaving championships hosted by the Cudgen Headland club at Kingscliff went ahead without a hitch.

"There have been a few bait fish around, but no sharks as yet," said Cudgen club spokesman Andrew Meredith.

The beach closures come a month after Brisbane woman Sarah Whitley, 21, was fatally mauled by bull sharks at North Stradbroke Island's Amity Point.



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