Shark Sighting Closes Newcastle Beaches: Has 'Monster' Great White Returned?

Beaches in Newcastle, Australia have been closed after a sighting of a large great white shark, amid fears that the unusual predator that was responsible for shuttering the surf earlier this year may have returned.

A group of commercial divers were operating at the mouth of Newcastle harbor, and were still planning to enter the water even though they had seen a fin break the surface, when they spotted the white shark. Described as around four-meters-long and estimated to weigh in excess of 1,000 kg, the massive shark sidled up to their boat near the southern breakwall, before passing underneath it. The great white's tail, more than a meter high, remained on one side of the boat as its head emerged on the opposite.

Authorities in Newcastle decided to close the beaches after the shark sighting, which comes just a day after Japanese national Tadashi Nakahara died while surfing along the NSW coast, when what is believed to be a large white shark struck him from below, severing portions of both of his legs. Just a day earlier, another surfer was struck by a shark near Byron Bay, suffering lacerations to his back.

According to a statement by the Newcastle council, lifeguards were patrolling the harbor on jetskis in an effort to search for the large shark, which appeared in the same area as the massive 4.5-meter-long white shark that forced the closure of beaches last month. Along with that unusually large shark, thought to be one of the biggest ever sighted in the region, a large tiger shark, a group of bull sharks, and another large predator, believed to be a white shark, have all been recorded recently in the area.

Commercial diver Dustin Besse, 31, managed to capture video of the great white as it passed underneath the boat, a three-meter-wide vessel. One of his fellow divers was suited up and ready to enter the water in order to work on a signal buoy when the white shark appeared.

"I do a lot of surfing, I know [sharks] are out there," Besse observed. "It is not as if they are just there today, they are always there. We do a lot of work in the harbor where there is zero visibility - if you can see your hand, it is a very good day."

The divers eventually finished their work after waiting for two hours to enter the water, and they assert that the presence of a great white shark is nothing new in their job.

[Image via the Daily Telegraph]