Four tiger sharks were recently killed off the coast of North Queensland, about one week after the hospitalization of a 46-year-old woman and a 12-year-old girl due to separate shark mauling incidents at a Great Barrier Reef tourist location.
According to ABC News Australia, the sharks captured in drumlines and killed earlier in the week included one that measured 12 feet (3.7 meters) in length, making it the largest of the four that were deemed a “serious threat” to people swimming in the area. A Queensland Fisheries representative was not able to confirm if the sharks were responsible for last week’s attacks on 46-year-old Justine Barwick and 12-year-old Hannah Papps in the Whitsunday Islands.
“This shark, like the others, would pose a serious threat to people swimming in the Cid Harbour waters,” the spokesman said, referring to the 12-foot-long tiger shark.
“The intention is to remove large, dangerous sharks from the area and reduce the risk to people.”
Separately, Channel News Asia also cited a spokesman for Queensland Fisheries, who stressed that it remains unclear if the sharks that were killed were responsible for last week’s incidents. The representative added that the carcasses will be disposed “well out to sea,” and that the drumlines will still be in place for the entirety of the coming week as a safety precaution for swimmers.
As further noted by Channel News Asia, the recent tiger shark attacks reignited conversations regarding the best ways to keep swimmers safe from sharks, as more and more people are heading to the ocean to swim while visiting the Whitsundays. The islands, which are a popular tourist spot in the Great Barrier Reef, had last seen a shark attack about eight years ago.
Speaking to ABC News Australia, a woman named Sally McAdam talked about how she saw Queensland Fisheries officials kill two tiger sharks on Saturday. McAdam, who lives on a boat on Cid Harbour, described the experience as “distressing,” as she saw the officials firing shots at the sharks that were caught by the drumlines.
“I thought it was quite well known that around the [Whitsundays]. it was a shark habitat and swimming was always at your own risk, so I think it’s been a massive knee-jerk reaction to a problem that’s created from phobias.”
Two sharks have been killed after a woman and a girl were attacked within 24 hours of each other off the Queensland coast of Australia https://t.co/ZYm5sCqXJP— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 23, 2018
Similarly, Humane Society International spokesman Lawrence Chlebeck was quoted by ABC News Australia as saying that he feels Queensland Fisheries’ punishment is “cruel,” especially since it isn’t even sure whether the tiger sharks that were killed were actually responsible for the Whitsundays incidents.
“These actions are just providing people with a false sense of security and really aren’t addressing the problem.”
On the other side of the debate, there were some who expressed their support for Queensland Fisheries’ decision to kill the four tiger sharks. Craig Barwick, whose wife Justine was one of the two swimmers injured in last week’s shark attacks, said that he understands why Queensland’s government is baiting sharks with drumlines and killing them for safety purposes. As of this writing, Justine Barwick is still confined at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital’s intensive care, following reconstructive surgery on her right leg.