History of Shark Attacks on the Gold Coast
Are there sharks?
Well, in a nutshell, yes. But you're more likely to be attacked by lightning than a shark. A Shark Control Program run by the Queensland Government manages a range of nets, bait hooks and other preventative measures designed to keep sharks away from people swimming at the beach. There have only been a few reported shark attacks in the waters off the Gold Coast in recent years, most of which involve only minor injuries.
Even shark sightings are rare on the open beach, with only one or two large sharks even being seen by average beach goers each year and if a shark is spotted (either by life guards or aerial surveillance), swimmers are quickly warned.
However, while your chances of meeting a shark in the ocean are slim, if you enter the water in the canal estates and salt water estuaries situated away from the ocean, you're in much more dangerous territory. Since 2002 there have been two fatal shark attacks in canals and lakes and local newspapers regularly run stories about the waterways are teeming with aggressive bull sharks.
If you want to swim, go to the beach, don't jump in a lake, and never paddle in the canals, especially at dawn or dusk when sharks are hunting. It's also advisable to not swim anywhere at night. If you like a bit of danger, then why not swim with the sharks at Sea World's Shark SCUBA program.
Gold Coast Shark Attacks - Statistics & Related Information
Since the instigation of the Shark Control Program by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries in the 1960s, sharks are rarely sighted on open surf beaches (perhaps once every six months). However, shark sightings in the canals are very common and since 2002 there have been two fatal shark attacks in canals and inland lakes.
The following table shows the number of recorded shark attacks on the Gold Coast, where the attack took place, the nature of the injury, what the person was doing at the time, the time of day, species of shark and other relevant information where available.
Please note that shark attacks have not been listed where it was clear that the shark was provoked (for example there have been a number of incidents where shark fisherman have been bitten while trying to remove sharks from their nets), or where it has not been proven that a shark was at fault (there have been incidents where people have gone missing and it has been presumed that a shark took them, but there is insufficient evidence to confirm the details).
Unprovoked Shark Attacks on the Gold Coast: 1905-2012
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|12-Jun-1905||Fingal Beach||Surfing||male, an American tourist||M||No injury, board broken in two||3m shark||Herald, 4/10/1990, p.4|
|15-Apr-1934||Currumbin||Body surfing||Frank Ilett||M||34||Leg lacerated & punctured||9:30||V.M. Coppleson (1958), pp.92 & 238. Note: L. Schultz lists date as 1/15/1934|
|27-Oct-1937||Kirra Beach||Swimming||Norman Girvan||M||18||FATAL||17:30||3.6m Female Tiger Shark||V.M. Coppleson, pp.51, 81-84 & 234; A. Sharpe, pp.94-96; H. Edwards, pp.114-115|
|15-Jan-1940||Surfers Paradise||Swimming||Douglas Bright||M||22||Chest lacerated||Afternoon||V.M. Coppleson (1958), pp. 93 & 238|
|25-Nov-1950||Burleigh Heads||Body surfing||Leo Vincent Ryan||M||21||Part of buttocks & fingers severed||17:15||3m 'White Shark'||G.P.Whitley (1951), p. 194, cites Sunday Herald (Sydney), 11/26/1950 edition; V.M. Coppleson (1958), pp. 93-94 & 239|
|25-Nov-1950||Burleigh Heads||Swimming||Leo Ryan||M||Lost left hand||Source|
|13-Dec-1953||Palm Beach||Swimming or wading out to warn bathers that a shark had been seen||Neil Tapp||M||16||Bruised shoulder chest & foot||12:00||V.M. Coppleson (1958), pp.95 & 240|
|23-Nov-1958||Surfers Paradise||Swimming||Peter Gerard Spronk||M||21||FATAL||17:15||Source|
|22-Nov-1959||Surfers Paradise||Trailing the field in a surf race||Jeffrey Francis Sasche (or Sachse)||M||19||Lower left leg bittten, hand abraded||11:00||3m-4.3m Shark||Daily Mirror (Sydney) 11/23/1959 edition; G.P. Whitley; P. Gilbert, L. Schultz & S. Springer (1960); J. Green, p.35|
|22-Nov-1959||Surfers Paradise||taking part in a club race||Geoff Sachse||M||bitten on both legs and arms||Source|
|28-Nov-1959||North Burleigh||Standing in chest-deep water||David Beaver||M||17||Right foot lacerated||7:30||Small Shark||Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 11/29/1959 edition|
|4-Feb-1962||Greenmount Beach||Swimming||Lance Maloney||M||35||Shin bitten||2:30||60cm shark||Courier Mail (Brisbane), 2/5/1962|
|18-Nov-1964||Fingal Beach||Rescuing swimmers||Glenthorne Prior||M||29||FATAL||13:30||Daily Mirror (Sydney), 11/19/1964 edition|
|30-Nov-1967||Surfers Paradise||Jan Ligrov||M||18||Arm lacerated||Grey Nurse||(1994) #1524|
|22-Dec-1972||Currumbin Rock||Mark Worman||M||Hand bitten||R. McKenzie, Sunday Mail, 9/6/1987, p.11|
|26-Apr-1977||Tallebudgera||Gary Jones||M||Survived||R. McKenzie, Sunday Mail, 9/6/1987, p.11|
|2-Nov-1989||Mermaid Waters||Swimming in canal||Kristoffer Fredriksen||M||10||Left ankle broken & lacerated||2m Shark, possibly Bronze Whaler||Courier-Mail, 11/7/1989, p.3|
|28-Oct-1990||Mermaid Waters||Swimming||Craig Coleman||M||26||Buttocks & hip bitten||20:30||Sunday Mail (QLD), 10/28/1990, p.1|
|28-Nov-1990||Nerang River||Swimming||Michael Pignolet||M||26||Abdomen, hip, leg & arm bitten||1.5m Shark||Herald Sun, 11/30/1990, p.34|
|19-Jan-1991||Mermaid Waters||Swimming||Michael Sproule||M||35||Hands, legs & buttocks lacerated||8:10||Sunday Mail, 1/20/1991, p.1|
|28-Feb-1997||Nerang River (Carrara)||Swimming||female||F||21||Left leg biten||Small Shark||The Advertiser, 3/1/1997, p.12|
|30-Mar-2000||Main Beach||Swimming||Andrija Rojcezic||M||30||Left calf bitten||14:00||Source|
|16-Dec-2002||Miami Lake||Swimming||Beau Martin||M||23||FATAL||2:30||Bull shark||T. Peake, GSAF; Northern Territory News, 12/20/2002, p.9|
|Burleigh Lake||Swimming||Bob Purcell||M||84||FATAL||Morning||2m Bull Shark||
T. Peake, GSAF; Sunday Territorian, 2/9/2003, p.9
|Broadwater||Swimming||Josh Edwards||M||teen||Hand bitten||Morning||Medium shark||
|Coolangatta||Swimming||M||19||Thigh bitten||Morning||Small shark||
|Nobbys Beach||Surfing||Billy O'Leary||M||20||Leg bitten||5pm||Bull shark||
J. Pierce, The Courier Mail, 20/3/2012