Shark surge in Capes

Taelor Pelusey and Cameron MylesBusselton Dunsborough Times
There were nearly two dozen reports of sharks at the weekend.
Camera IconThere were nearly two dozen reports of sharks at the weekend. Credit: Getty Images/SPL Creative RM

Salmon schools have borne much of the blame for increased shark activity off the Capes, which last week spurred a harrowing encounter for a local diver, and almost two dozen more reported shark sightings in just three days.

On Monday, a shark warning was issued for the coastline between Eagle Bay and Cape Hamelin after 23 sharks were reported to the State Government’s alert system, Sharksmart, in the period from March 10-12.

One encounter was experienced by surf photographer and spearfisher Calum Macaulay, who came face-to-face with a great white, estimated about 5m long, on Saturday.

Mr Macaulay was spearfishing with two friends in about 20m of water off Yallingup when he pulled away from the group to check the boat’s anchor.

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“The visibility in the water was the best I had seen it all year,” he said.

“But this shark just came out of nowhere and was hovering there, staring at me. I didn’t even see it approach — he circled me quite a few times and came in really close.

“I held eye contact because that’s what I’ve been told to do, but I was pretty rattled.”

Mr Macaulay said the encounter, which “felt like it went for hours”, probably lasted about 10 minutes, and was the sixth time he had seen a great white shark up-close.

“This was the most intense, not the most aggressive, in fact not aggressive at all, but it was so intense,” he said.

“I had to get back in the water straight away though.

“Otherwise I knew I’d probably never get back in.”

The next day, Mr Macaulay and his diving partners fended off a 3m bronze whaler.

While not certain what was causing the surge in shark activity, Mr Macaulay said salmon running off the coast could be a contributing factor.

The Sharksmart warning said the increased shark activity was possibly because of a change in environmental conditions brought on by the influx of Australian salmon.

The species has started arriving off the South West coast to spawn.

Two other men contacted the Times reporting increased tiger shark and bronze whaler activity off Smiths Beach, coinciding with the Sharksmart alert.

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