Sharks are impossible to spot at Shelly Beach, where a surfer was killed by shark in 2015. Photo: Department of Primary Industries.
Sharks are impossible to spot at Shelly Beach, where a surfer was killed by shark in 2015. Photo: Department of Primary Industries.

BAD TIMING: More shark threat as helicopter surveys canned

MURKY waters washing out of the flood-devastated Byron Bay, Lismore and Tweed Heads townships has made it impossible for crucial shark surveillance to continue along the NSW North Coast.

On Sunday, a Department of Primary Industries spokesperson confirmed Shark Smart aerial helicopter surveys over the typically azure beaches of Tweed and Ballina had been cancelled due to poor visibility in the water.

Turbid, foamy waters had precluded Shark Smart marine life surveyors from spotting sharks in the sea at beaches including Ocean Shores and Shelly Beach, where surfer Tadashi Nakahara was killed by a great white in 2015.

"Low visibility has forced the cancellation of aerial surveillance between Ballina and Tweed today and most of last week," DPI's spokesperson said.

Lennox Head, just north of Byron Bay, has beaches where sharks are impossible to see during Department of Primary Industry's Shark Smart aerial surveys.
Lennox Head, just north of Byron Bay, has beaches where sharks are impossible to see during Department of Primary Industry's Shark Smart aerial surveys.

In a double-shock, residents of the popular surf coastline have been warned by the authorities that sewage, dead fish and flood debris gushing from the region's river mouths could increase shark activity.  

"DPI advises that flooding rivers and river fish and debris into the sea may lead to increased shark activity," DPIs spokesperson said. 

The warning comes as Rotorwing Helicopter Services releases a You Tube video showcasing its fleet of its aircraft to explain the capabilities of Shark Smart services that normally operate from Tweed to Port Macquarie.

Rotorwing's narrator tells viewers of the three minute clip posted on Facebook on Saturday "some people believe that this is just a witch hunt for sharks".

"This couldn't be further from the truth.

"This is the most comprehensive aerial marine survey that has ever taken place on the NSW coast... this data will be used for a range of studies for years to come."

The video gives instruction to swimmers or surfers that may hear a siren alert coming from a helicopter, and reminds residents and visitors to the North Coast to follow the Shark Smart and Dorsal Shark Reports apps.


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