A group of Australian children experienced a close call with a great white shark on Thursday, as they found themselves separated from the oceanic predator by little more than a net and 50 meters of ocean.
Diver Damien Leahy spotted the white shark’s fin breaking the surface of the water near Old Dunsborough Beach, according to WA Today, and was stunned to see that the animal was just meters away from a group of 30 to 40 children playing within a shark net. Spurring the shark away from the kids and into deeper water with his boat, Leahy noted that the predator’s dorsal fin was damaged.
He said the following of the shark’s proximity to the children.
“It’s a good job the net was there because it could have been a lot worse… Maybe a larger shark had attacked it and it was was using the shallow water for protection.”
Rory McAuley, a principal shark research scientist with Western Australia’s Department of Fisheries, could not confirm that the shark Leahy photographed was a great white.
“It could be a white shark but I cannot rule out it being Isurus oxyrinchus (shortfin mako) or Isurus paucus (longfin mako)… I can confirm though that it is considerably smaller than the reported 3.5m. I’d say it’s less than 2.5m.”
— Tim Carrier (@Tim_Carrier) January 8, 2015
The sighting comes amid reports that a white shark is loitering in the waters of Geographe Bay, off Dunsborough. As the West Australian notes, ECU science lecturer Rob Holt pointed out that his sources in the local fishing and surfing communities had alerted him to the shark’s presence.
“Anecdotal information, confirmed by recent sightings, suggests at least one mature great white has curtailed its migration to remain within Geographe Bay… We have a huge seal colony at the end of the cape that’s a big draw for the sharks. When you have those food sources available the sharks will be there at those locations.”
Last month, a white shark loitered off Warnbro Beach in Western Australia, prompting local authorities to issue a catch and kill order for the fish. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the shark was thought to be frequenting the area due to an abundance of prey, but rising beach usage caused officials to attempt the kill the shark, sparking outrage from researchers. The shark evaded capture, eventually escaping to sea.
A Department of Fisheries spokesman was unsure if the great white in Dunsborough was reported to authorities, though he urged the public to relay all shark sightings to the water police.
[Image: Damien Leahy via WA Today]