ANOTHER whale calf had to be rescued from shark nets off Main Beach yesterday and one died when it got caught off Bilinga last month.
Shark nets are a serious threat to whales on their southern migration past the Gold Coast. Compared to the journey north, whales now have newborn calves as they head back down towards Antarctica and they are more susceptible to the dangers of shark nets.
Part-time shark nets could make all the difference. The official whale migration season is from June to November. This is the off-peak time for tourists and would impact a smaller number of swimmers. They could be taken down in June and reinstated in November.
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While we would like to believe that shark nets keep the Gold Coast shark-free, this is simply not true. Instead of one long net spanning the length of the Gold Coast they are sporadic hooks and nets that are mere metres in length and don’t reach anywhere near the bottom.
In reality, it is much easier for sharks to avoid the nets than whales. Sharks are fish that can swim deep, whereas whales are mammals that have to stay near the surface to be able to breathe.
It wasn’t long ago that humpback whales were considered an endangered species. Due to the concerted effort of conservationists and a more educated public, the number is steadily increasing each year. Up to 100 whales pass the Gold Coast each day during whale season and we have a responsibility to protect them.
For those concerned about the safety of our beaches when shark nets are not in place, it pays to keep a few things in mind. You are still more likely to get struck by lightning than attacked by a shark.
By all means, reinstate the shark nets during summer. Tourists and locals alike have claimed that shark nets help them feel more comfortable and confident entering the water. Tourist season begins in late November with Schoolies and this would be the perfect deadline for reinstating the nets.
Until recently we had a stellar record of zero shark attacks on Gold Coast beaches for quite a few years and many attribute that to the shark nets. It seems that our canals are more dangerous than our open beaches anyway.
Part-time shark nets could be a viable solution for keeping whales safe on their migration and ensuring Gold Coasters and our visitors feel safe during the warmer months that are our peak swimming time.
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