Newcastle beaches in Australia have been closed by local authorities for the seventh day in a row after two great white sharks were spotted nearby, engaging in a series of ferocious attacks on local dolphins.
Local officials shut down the beaches and issued safety warnings for people to stay out of the water after two large sharks began harassing and violently attacking local dolphins whose mangled bodies have been washing ashore. The smaller of the two sharks is almost 10 feet long, with the larger being over 16 feet in length, and they both seem to be hunting in this same area. Several photos were captured of the attacks by local scuba divers and news sources in the area as growing concerns prompted the local officials to take action.
At this point, Newcastle officials have said that all the area beaches will remain officially closed and off limits to anyone until at least a 24 to 48 hour period after the sharks have left the area.
These attacks occurred around the same time that a seventeen-year-old boy was attacked by a shark while he was spear fishing off of the coast of New South Wales, around Mollymook beach. The incident occurred after he attempted to get close enough to film the shark. The shark then attacked; however, he survived the attack and was hospitalized for treatment.
To spite popular media portrayals of great white sharks as a man-eating machine, such aggression is actually rare and sharks tend to be rather solitary creatures, hunting alone, who most often will consume the majority of whatever they kill. Attacking and leaving the animal without consuming it is not their typical behavior and these sightings of such aggressive attacks have been a major safety concern for local officials in Newcastle and other locations.
Changes due to global warming are altering both the temperatures of the sea as well as the ocean’s acidity level. This, coupled with the collapse of many fisheries and the instability of others, is disrupting the sharks normal environment and threatening their food supply. This could be playing a role in the upsurge of aggressive behavior recently being witnessed. Shark attacks on humans are actually very rare, with less than 5 fatal attacks by sharks in waters around the world each year. In fact, humans only have a 1 in 11.5 million chance of ever being attacked by a shark, according to statistics reported by the non-profit group Oceana.
[Image: Nine News Syndey via Twitter]