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The Depths Of Destruction – Do We Really Need The Shark Nets??

By Duncan Horscroft on February 17, 2011 in News

Sharks are clearly not happy about the shark nets

The photo in The Daily Telegraph last year showed a large Grey Nurse Shark entangled in the net off Bondi Beach.

Many of you would have seen footage of the deceased creature being removed and buried on Bondi Rescue on Sunday night, the victim of a violent death after struggling for God knows how long to free itself.

Its only crime was chasing some food – a big fish that also became entangled in the six-metre deep mesh trap.
Environmentalists are constantly bashing the tambourine about saving wildlife and turning our beaches into marine sanctuaries where fishing is banned.

However, no one makes any noise about the ridiculous amount of marine life that is sentenced to death on a regular basis when shark nets are dropped off the coastline.

We yell and scream about the atrocities committed by some fisherman who cut the fins and tails off sharks and throw them back alive, all in the name of ‘medicine’.

But when a majestic creature gets caught off our local beaches and suffers a slow, painful death does anyone care?

Prior to the introduction of surf lifesaving in Australia in the early 1900s, it was an offence to swim in the ocean.

When all that changed and our love of the water grew, we became more aware of the creatures that inhabit the deep blue.

Our forefathers in the First Fleet could relate to the odd ‘Noah’s Ark’ that followed the tall ships on their adventures across the Atlantic feasting on anything jettisoned from the wooden decks above, which sometimes included humans.

And as swimming in the ocean became a more popular pastime in this country, more swimmers were subjected to the scorn of some of the ocean creatures as their peaceful environment was invaded.

Bluebottles are the scourge of the Eastern Beaches in summer when the nor-easters blow. There aren’t any nets around to protect us from these nasties.

More people are stung by bluebottles in a day than are eaten by sharks in a lifetime.

It’s not out of the ordinary to fear the great unknown and the creatures that live in it. After all there is six times more ocean than there is land on this wonderful planet Earth.

Fear of sharks is a normal phenomena and many a surfer has been known to leave a decent burley trail upon the sighting of a dorsal fin.

Usually these so-called monsters of the deep are not the least bit interested in us, but have been known to have the odd taste test, especially when one dresses up to look like a seal, a delicacy high on the shark’s menu.

Sure some species are more aggressive toward humans than others, as is the case with the two shark attacks in Sydney in 2009 – one at Bondi – which were blamed on the highly unpredictable Bull Shark.

According to records there has been 1.25 fatalities per year due to shark attack in the 20 years to January 2008. In 2006, 212 people died of accidental drowning and submersion.

So you really have to ask yourself is meshing really a necessity other than giving beachgoers peace of mind? More than 1300km of the NSW coast is net-free, but people still swim there regardless.

Bondi has always been a breeding ground for the relatively harmless and endangered Grey Nurse Shark.

Of course other sharks are going to be present because, after all, it is their environment, not ours, and they have been around since the year dot.

But to sentence a creature to execution for merely inhabiting its own backyard is totally inexcusable.