Coast diver keen to test new shark protection for surfers
WHILE northern NSW struggles for a solution to a shark problem that has seen six shark attacks including two fatalities in less than a year, on the Sunshine Coast diver Tony Isaacson (pictured) would like to find some.
Isaacson, a diver and advocate for deterrent solutions other than netting, is keen to test the efficacy of a new product designed for surfers, that is due for release on the Australian market.
He's dived from Caloundra to Wolf Rock off Double Island Point and is still unable to find a bull shark colony to test the device to be distributed by Apollo, the same company that brought to Australia the "No Shark" ankle device.
To date this year the largest shark caught on the Sunshine Coast by the State Government's control program has been a 3.8 metre Tawny Shark, an animal considered to be non-lethal.
In total 27 sharks measuring more than two metres were caught by the program and a further three that were greater than three metres.
Isaacson describes Tawny Sharks as the "huggy bears" of the sea.
Last year he took Navy diver Paul de Gelder, who lost an arm and leg to a bull shark in Sydney Harbour in 2009, to Beqa Lagoon in Fiji where the author of "No Time for Fear" found closure diving among a writhing mass of tawny sharks.
On the Sunshine Coast 16 Tawny Sharks have been caught this year at Rainbow Beach alone, the biggest at 3.8m on May 19. The nets and drum lines set up off popular Sunshine Coast beaches also caught two sharks measuring 2.8m (May 28 at Sunshine Beach) and 2.66m (April 9, Caloundra) from the vulnerable Grey Nurse species.
Isaacson concedes that no signal emitting device would deter a great white in full attack mode.
He is however an advocate for the Clever Buoy technology that when tethered offshore can detect the difference between a dolphin, whale and shark and relay that information to the nearest lifeguard tower so that warnings can be issued.
"It's the smartest application of eye-in-the-sky technology I've seen and should be being rolled out across Australia," Isaacson said.
He also wants improved simple language warning signs to spell out the risks, saying there remains a level of ignorance or arrogance around when it's safe to be in the water.
"If you know the risks and are prepared to take, well so be it," Isaacson said.
"But there's a need to be particularly cautious around big rainfall events."
Bull sharks, he said, tend to bite first before investigating what they're chomping down on.
Rainbow Beach is very much shark headquarters on the Sunshine Coast with 40 animals caught there so far in the first six months of this year according to State Government data.