Are there sharks in the Sydney Harbour?
“There are sharks in Sydney Harbour but their presence should not alarm people, sharks have been in these waters before human settlement,” says a NSWDPI Spokesperson.
“NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) tagging research has shown that Bull Sharks are more numerous in the estuaries and coastal waters of Sydney over the summer and autumn months when water temperature increases.
“Bull sharks are the most common species of potentially dangerous sharks found in Sydney Harbour. At various times of the year, other species of sharks can be found in the Harbour such as Dusky whaler, Wobbegong and Port Jackson.”
Is it safe to swim in Sydney Harbour?
“Shark interactions in Sydney Harbour are very rare. Given the number of people that swim in the harbour over the summer and autumn months, it is uncommon for someone to be attacked by a bull shark,” the spokesperson continues.
“Thousands of people use our rivers and estuaries every day. While we can never 100% safeguard against shark attacks, we always encourage water-users to be SharkSmart."
Here are there tips to avoiding a shark encounter:
- getting a better awareness of sharks by following the movements of the tagged sharks and keeping up to date by following us on Twitter @NSWSharkSmart or downloading the NSWsharksmart app at the app. store
- avoiding the water around dawn & dusk
- avoiding the water after rain or when it's murky
- avoiding the water if there are a lot of bait fish in the area, this can be seen by birds diving & lots of splashing at the surface
- avoiding areas used by recreational or commercial fishers"
Where are sharks most commonly sighted?
“There is no such thing as ‘shark-infested waters.’
“Research has shown that bull sharks are more likely to be around the harbour when the water is warmer, particularly during summer and autumn and when water temperatures are 22-23 °C.
“By tagging and tracking bull shark in Sydney Harbour since 2009, we have found that bull sharks utilise all areas of Sydney Harbour from Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers to Middle and North Harbour. “
What should you look out for?
“There is no one trigger to indicate the possible presence of a shark. However, the likelihood of encountering a shark is increased in areas with bait fish - this can be seen by birds diving and/or lots of splashing at the surface," adds the NSWDPI representative.
“There is no truth to the fact that you are more likely to encounter a shark after a storm. However, after heavy rainfall when waters are murky you may increase your chance of encountering a shark. This is because nutrients from the land run into the ocean and brings in fish and other animals to feed, this can then attracts sharks. Also, the visibility of the water after rainfall decreases, which makes conditions ideal for ambush predators like sharks to hunt in. This is particularly true for Bull Sharks.”
How many people have been killed by sharks in Sydney Harbour?
“The last reported fatality was in January 1963 to Martha Hathaway swimming in Sugarloaf Bay, Middle Harbour. The last severe shark interaction in the harbour was in February 2009 when the Navy diver Paul de Gelder was bitten whilst diving around Garden Island in murky water early in the morning and testing sonar and diver detection devices.”
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