Queensland study finds very few sharks

A study after shark attacks has found low shark numbers at the Whitsunday Islands.
A study after shark attacks has found low shark numbers at the Whitsunday Islands.

A study into a spate of shark attacks, including one fatal, in north Queensland's Whitsundays has found a "very low" number of sharks in the area.

Victorian doctor Daniel Christidis was mauled to death last November and a woman and a girl were seriously injured in separate attacks a month earlier in Cid Harbour.

While bull sharks have been identified as a likely culprit for the attacks, an interim report for the Queensland government-commissioned study has found there was a "notable absence" of the species in the area.

Tiger sharks and less aggressive spot-tail sharks and tawny nurse sharks were mainly observed.

"Despite the intense sampling effort on this field trip, shark catches and sights were very low," the report said.

The study, which included 465 hours of catch and release fishing in December last year, did observe "abundant marine life that could be shark prey", including turtles, dolphins, mackerels and baitfish.

"Indeed, four of the five tiger sharks caught by the shark control contractor contained turtles in their stomachs," the report said.

Fishers throwing food scraps overboard could also attract sharks.

Following the attacks the Queensland government outlined a five-point plan to improve safety, which included $250,000 in scientific research and a no swim zone in the harbour frequented by tourists.

Australian Associated Press