Saturday, 10 March 2012

No bull! Actually, there's heaps and they're having a sojourn in Sydney Harbour

Here we go again. The minute I enter a swim that takes place in Sydney Harbour yet another story about bull sharks pops up in the local rag. 

And it's about my favourite (not) the bull shark.

The news is not really new but it's unnerving all the same. Since 2009 Dr Amy Smoothey and her team have planted tracking devices in the stomachs of 36 bull sharks found in Sydney Harbour. 

The other night when Sydney hunkered down under the force of a wild storm, Dr Smoothey got herself a biggin: a 3-metre long female caught near Sow and Pigs Reef, which is located close to the harbour entrance. 

I've cut and pasted a bit of the story from The Sydney Morning Herald. It's fascinating:
The sharks arrive in late November or early December and depart in mid to late April, spending from a day to three weeks in the harbour on each visit, with an average sojourn of 17 days.
There are no hot spots, where they gather. ''They're going everywhere,'' Dr Smoothey said.
They dive from the surface to more than 30 metres deep and water temperatures ranging from 19 to 30 degrees.
And they often come back each year. Of the 11 sharks tagged in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, nine returned during the summer and autumn of 2011.
The feisty female that Dr Smoothey and her team caught near Sow and Pigs Reef last month had been tagged just seven days before near Parramatta River.

I love it that the sharks have a 'sojourn'. It sounds so civilised.

Dr Smoothey's team has only caught bull sharks, which suggests that other shark species aren't venturing inside the heads. I feel better now...

It seems the bully is the one to look out for if you're in the harbour, as I will be tomorrow for both the 1 km and 2 km swims in The Sydney Harbour Swim Classic. 

Crazy lady. "Hey shark! Here I am! And if you don't get me the first time, there's another chance later on!"

I'm getting hysterical.

For the other eejits diving in to a murky Sydney Harbour tomorrow, there are reassuring words from Dr Smoothey:  

On Australia Day in 2011 there were seven present, when thousands of people also took to the water. ''There were no incidents. Not even a sighting. It suggests bull sharks may not be the voracious predators we once thought,'' Dr Smoothey said. ''… sharks and humans can co-exist."

This will be my fifth Sydney Harbour swim and I did one earlier this year. I'm still around to tell the tale with all my bits intact. 

I'll report back tomorrow to let you know if Dr Smoothey is right! And if I don't... ]no flowers please, just a donation to the WWF. And can someone make sure the dog gets walked every day?

PS: Though I'm not a fan of bull sharks, I respect these amazing creatures and value the role they play in keeping our oceans healthy. Without them we're stuffed. I oppose shark finning and despise people who launch their own 'attacks' on sharks after a human has unfortunately got in the way of one (this happened in WA late last year).    

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