Cleaner waters attract sharks to Sydney beaches

Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:34pm EST
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By Michael Perry

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Environmental protection of Sydney's beaches and harbor has created a cleaner marine environment, but is attracting sharks closer to shore chasing fish, say marine experts, after two shark attacks in two days.

Fishermen say shark numbers are on the rise, but marine scientists say while there have been more sightings it is unclear whether there are more sharks off Sydney.

A shark almost severed a surfer's arm in an attack just before dark at Sydney's famous Bondi Beach on Thursday. The first attack at Bondi since 1929.

A navy diver was attacked in Sydney Harbor near the Opera House on Wednesday, losing his hand and he may lose his leg.

New South Wales state Primary Industries Minister Ian MacDonald said on Friday he would order a survey of shark numbers off Sydney, after the attacks and as a result of more sightings.

"I think you'll find that the protective measures that have been put in place by governments in recent years have halted the decline of many species of sharks," MacDonald said on Friday.

"Coupled with some improved environment conditions, plus a reduction in fishing efforts in parts of the state, would mean shark numbers could enhance," MacDonald told local radio.

"The reports I am getting from people spotting sharks, there seems to be a build up in sharks in the estuaries, as well as along the ocean shore," he said.   Continued...

<p>Two surfers walk as lifeguards set up "dangerous current" signs at the iconic Bondi beach in Sydney, February 13, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz</p>