A pair of Australian fisherman caught a large bull shark in a Sydney waterway prompting a warning for the area once known for its shark attacks decades ago.
Images of the fisherman’s Nov. 27 catch were posted on a popular Facebook fishing forum with the accompanying text that read: “Wow caught [in] Georges River this arvo!”
The location where the image was taken is some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the ocean and is known for being a popular spot for water skiing.
The NSW Maritime authority were among the 1,500 plus Facebook users who shared the post and added some words of advice: “News in of a shark caught up the Georges River yesterday, take care out there.”
Bull sharks are aggressive and are considered a dangerous species to humans. They are solitary hunters and live in warm, shallow coastal waters. They also have a high tolerance for fresh water which expands the range of the territory they are found cruising in.
While the local Georges River authorities say that shark sightings are not that common in the river, many locals say it is known that bull sharks inhabit the water and nearby waters as well.
“That’s only a pup! They’ve always been in the Georges, even out into Botany Bay along Lady Robinson’s Beach,” wrote one Facebook user on Sydney’s Fishing Forum.
Another Facebook user commented on the photo, wondering why people are surprised that there are sharks in the river, “I remember when we used to go boating up the river toward Georges Hall that we would spot fins in the water. If you live near the river, you know sharks exist there.”
Many also recounted historical accounts of people and animals who had been attacked in the river by sharks.
“There was a lady in the 60’s who dove in, both of her arms were bitten off,” wrote one of the forum members.
Watch this newsreel made in 1939 covering shark attacks in the George’s River.
“Bull sharks are the reason why they don’t swim horses in Chipping Norton Lakes to the left near the race course anymore, a lot of them were attacked and only heads left,” someone else wrote.
While there have been no recent fatal shark attacks on George’s River, according to the website Dictionary of Sydney, there were several during the 1930s and 1940s.
“There was a non-fatal attack in January 1934, a fatal attack and an injury on New Year’s Eve 1934, a non-fatal attack in December 1939, a fatal attack in March 1942 and a fatal attack in January 1946,” said the website.
More recently, bull sharks gained renewed notoriety in Australia after one was believed to have attacked a navy clearance diver in Sydney Harbor in 2009. The diver, Paul de Gelder, lost two limbs in the attack.
Despite his life-changing shark encounter, De Gelder still has a deep respect for the animal. On his Facebook, De Gelder encourages all those who are “interested in learning about sharks and our mostly irrational fear of them” to get informed about what risks sharks really pose to humans.
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