A MONSTER predator lurking off the Queensland coast is so big it was nearly able to bite this 3m white pointer shark in half.
The massive chunks were probably taken out by a giant white pointer that could easily be more than 5m long, based on the size of the huge bites on the sides of its smaller rival, experts say.
The shark-on-shark attack occurred off North Stradbroke Island, east of Brisbane.
The monster took advantage of the smaller shark being snared on a baited drumline set off the island’s popular Cylinder, Main and Deadman’s beaches.
The State Government, which issues licences for shark nets and drumlines, has been under pressure in recent weeks to scale back the program after five migrating whales were trapped in nets off Queensland’s coast.
But Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin said the capture of the 3m shark – and the indication of a larger one feeding in the area – bolstered the decision to keep shark nets and lines in place.
He said there were no special plans in place to hunt the monster shark but contractors had reset drum lines in the area.
There were shark jitters among some on North Stradbroke Island yesterday, where the water was packed with surfers for the annual Straddie Assault contest.
Ashton Smith, 19, of the Gold Coast, was menaced by a 2m shark while surfing with a friend off Frenchman’s Beach at Point Lookout on Friday.
“It was quite close to us before we realised it was a shark. We came in (to the beach) because it was hanging around.
“I’ve heard about the big one lurking. Every surfer is always cautious over here.”
Fishing charter operator John Gooding said shark numbers had dramatically increased in the area recently.
“They’re everywhere. Some days you struggle to get a fish on to the boat before the sharks take them,” he said.
There were no shark sightings yesterday from crew in the Westpac rescue helicopter which patrolled the Gold Coast, North and South Stradbroke Islands and parts of Moreton Bay.
On the Sunshine Coast, Marcoola Beach was shut down briefly yesterday morning after a reported shark sighting. But it turned out to be a 2.5m manta ray.
In the 47 years since the shark net and drumline program was introduced in Queensland there has been only one fatal attack on a protected beach. That was on the Moreton Bay side of Stradbroke Island when 21-year-old student Sarah Kate Whiley was killed at Amity Point in January 2006.
Australian Marine Conservation Society director Darren Kindleysides said recent figures on the number of sharks caught showed the nets were working but at huge cost to whales, dolphins and turtles.
Hervey Bay shark hunter Vic Hislop believes sharks nets are too damaging to the overall marine environment. He thinks methods should be explored to scare away sharks rather than capture and kill them.