segunda-feira, 14 de janeiro de 2008

Lifeguards attacked by shark

Lifeguards at Omaha beach north of Auckland were attacked by a bronze whaler shark this afternoon, which latched on to their inflatable boat, causing it to deflate.

The surf lifeguards had gone out to investigate following sightings of the shark.

Climatech Regional Lifeguards spotted the shark about 100m offshore and closed the patrolled area about 2pm.

Dean Storey, lifesaving manager for the northern region said a 3-4m bronze-whaler shark attacked the inflatable boat as lifeguards approached it, biting the rear starboard pontoon and deflating the boat.

Lifeguards made it to the shore, using the deflated boat and have closed Omaha beach to swimming, erecting signs and advising those in the area of the problem.

Omaha Surf Club president Daniel Baturic said Omaha Beach would remain closed until at least tomorrow.

He said sharks were reported swimming off the beach and a boat was sent out to confirm the sighting.

The boat's crew had been guiding a shark away from the beach for about 30 metres when it turned around and attacked the boat.

Mr Baturic said the shark's behaviour could have been caused by bait being laid by a commercial fisherman for crab pots.

About 45 pots had been put out near the beach and about one kilo of bait was thrown into the water, he said.

Mr Storey said lifeguards responded exactly to procedure, identified the shark risk, closed the patrolled area and were continuing safety interventions to warn public of any danger.

"This is an isolated incident and I want to reiterate that the risk of being attacked by sharks is minimal," he said. "As showcased in this incident, swimming at a lifeguard-patrolled beach will also decrease the already low chance of shark attack due to lifeguard surveillance of the patrolled area.

"The risk of drowning is far more prevalent than a shark attack. The public are always advised to swim at lifeguard-patrolled beaches and swim between the flags."

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