Jeff Krause, the government’s Shark Control Program manager, was quick to use the contest to support the controversial killing of sharks as a tool to protect water users.
“The successful removal of this dangerous shark from a popular swimming beach was particularly important given the Quiksilver Pro surfing competition currently underway at nearby Snapper Rocks,” Krause told the Courier Mail, in a story posted Friday. “It was a pretty big shark.”
The drum-line capture at Greenmount Beach was reported several hours after eight Roxy Pro surfers, including Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore, had completed the quarterfinals of the ASP World Championship Tour event.
The Quiksilver Pro was not held Wednesday, because of poor conditions, but competitor Anthony Walsh was asked about the shark by Nine Network, on the Today Show (video posted above).
“If it was going to take a person, then it’s lucky that the hook got it,” Walsh replied. “But you never know if it was going to take a person. There’s probably one swimming up and down here all day, every day, and you wouldn’t even know it.”
Drum lines are basically large floating drums with long chains and baited hooks. Australia has used them for years.
In Queensland, which includes the Gold Coast, about a dozen white sharks are killed annually. Most of the controversy, however, was generated by what’s occurring on the opposite side of the country, in Western Australia, where an aggressive shark cull was approved in December, 2013.
That program, involving professional hunters hired by the government, was developed in the aftermath of six fatal shark attacks in a two-year span.
Conservationists and marine biologists are among its many critics. They’ve stated that a large-scale shark cull only lends a perception that waters are safer, and that sharks play a vital role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
The Western Australia program has already removed 67 sharks, but not a single great white, according to the Courier Mail. As part of that program, more than 300 sharks send automatic messages to Twitter when they approach within a kilometer of a popular beach. Twitter followers can then decide whether to swim or surf that day.
On the Gold Coast, ASP World Championship Tour surfers are largely unfazed by the possibility of shark sightings. Surfers and sharks for years have shared the same realm.
Said World Championship Tour spokesman Dave Prodan: "The safety and well-being of our athletes is a priority for the ASP. However, we work in and love an environment that deserves and requires a healthy, balanced ecosystem.
"The surfers and administration understand that there are inherent risks involved every time you enter the water."
The Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro, as of Friday morning, were in Day 8 of a 12-day competition window.
–Pete Thomas, via GrindTv Surf
–Photos are screen grabs