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History of Shark AttacksOn 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

This data is Copyright © 2012 Gold Coast Australia.com and may not be reproduced without permission

Date12/06/1905

AreaFingal Beach

ActivitySurfing

NameAmerican tourist

SexM

Age-

InjuryNo injury, board broken in two

Time-

Species3m shark

SourceHerald, 4/10/1990, p.4

Date15/04/1934

AreaCurrumbin

ActivityBody surfing

NameFrank Ilett

SexM

Age34

InjuryLeg lacerated & punctured

Time9:30am

Species-

SourceV.M. Coppleson (1958), pp.92 & 238. Note: L. Schultz lists date as 1/15/1934

Date27/10/1937

AreaKirra Beach

ActivitySwimming

NameNorman Girvan

SexM

Age18

InjuryFATAL

Time17:30

Species3.6m Female Tiger Shark

SourceV.M. Coppleson, pp.51, 81-84 & 234; A. Sharpe, pp.94-96; H. Edwards, pp.114-115

Date15/01/1940

AreaSurfers Paradise

ActivitySwimming

NameDouglas Bright

SexM

Age22

InjuryChest lacerated

TimeAfternoon

Species-

SourceV.M. Coppleson (1958), pp. 93 & 238

Date25/11/1950

AreaBurleigh Heads

ActivityBody surfing

NameLeo Vincent Ryan

SexM

Age21

InjuryPart of buttocks & fingers severed

Time17:15

Species3m White Shark

SourceG.P.Whitley (1951), p. 194, cites Sunday Herald (Sydney), 11/26/1950 edition; V.M. Coppleson (1958), pp. 93-94 & 239

Date13/12/1953

AreaPalm Beach

ActivitySwimming or wading out to warn bathers that a shark had been seen

NameNeil Tapp

SexM

Age16

InjuryBruised shoulder chest & foot

Time12:00

Species-

SourceV.M. Coppleson (1958), pp.95 & 240

Date23/11/1958

AreaSurfers Paradise

ActivitySwimming

NamePeter Gerard Spronk

SexM

Age21

InjuryFATAL

Time17:15

Species-

Date22/11/1959

AreaSurfers Paradise

ActivityTrailing the field in a surf race

NameJeffrey Francis Sasche (or Sachse)

SexM

Age19

InjuryLower left leg bittten, hand abraded

Time11:00

Species3m-4.3m Shark

SourceDaily Mirror (Sydney) 11/23/1959 edition; G.P. Whitley; P. Gilbert, L. Schultz & S. Springer (1960); J. Green, p.35

Date22/11/1959

AreaSurfers Paradise

ActivityTrailing the field in a surf race

NameJeffrey Francis Sasche (or Sachse)

SexM

Age19

InjuryLower left leg bitten, hand abraded

Time11:00

Species3m-4.3m Shark

SourceDaily Mirror (Sydney) 11/23/1959 edition; G.P. Whitley; P. Gilbert, L. Schultz & S. Springer (1960); J. Green, p.35; Northcliffe Surf Club

Date28/11/1959

AreaNorth Burleigh

ActivityStanding in chest-deep water

NameDavid Beaver

SexM

Age17

InjuryRight foot lacerated

Time11:00

SpeciesSmall Shark

SourceSunday Mail (Brisbane), 11/29/1959 edition

Date04/02/1962

AreaGreenmount Beach

ActivitySwimming

NameLance Maloney

SexM

Age35

InjuryShin bitten

Time14:30

Species60cm shark

SourceCourier Mail (Brisbane), 2/5/1962

Date18/11/1964

AreaFingal Beach

ActivityRescuing swimmers

NameGlenthorne Prior

SexM

Age29

InjuryFATAL

Time13:30

Species-

SourceDaily Mirror (Sydney), 11/19/1964 edition

Date30/11/1967

AreaSurfers Paradise

Activity-

NameJan Ligrovr

SexM

Age18

InjuryArm lacerated

Time-

SpeciesGrey Nurse

Source(1994) #1524

Date22/12/1972

AreaCurrumbin Rock

Activity-

NameMark Worman

SexM

Age-

InjuryHand bitten

Time-

Species-

SourceR. McKenzie, Sunday Mail, 9/6/1987, p.11

Date26/04/1977

AreaTallebudgera

Activity-

NameGary Jones<

SexM

Age-

InjurySurvived

Time-

Species-

SourceR. McKenzie, Sunday Mail, 9/6/1987, p.11

Date02/11/1989

AreaMermaid Waters

ActivitySwimming in canal

NameKristoffer Fredriksen

SexM

Age10

InjuryLeft ankle broken & lacerated

Time-

Species2m Shark, possibly Bronze Whaler

SourceCourier-Mail, 11/7/1989, p.3

Date28/10/1990

AreaMermaid Waters

ActivitySwimming

NameCraig Coleman

SexM

Age26

InjuryButtocks & hip bitten

Time20:30

Species-

SourceSunday Mail (QLD), 10/28/1990, p.1

Date28/11/1990

AreaNerang River

ActivitySwimming

NameMichael Pignolet

SexM

Age26

InjuryAbdomen, hip, leg & arm bitten

Time-

Species1.5m Shark

SourceHerald Sun, 11/30/1990, p.34

Date19/01/1991

AreaMermaid Waters

ActivitySwimming

NameMichael Sproule

SexM

Age35

InjuryHands, legs & buttocks lacerated

Time8:10

Species-

SourceSunday Mail, 1/20/1991, p.1

Date28/02/1997

AreaNerang River (Carrara)

ActivitySwimming

Name-

SexF

Age21

InjuryLeft leg biten

Time-

SpeciesSmall Shark

SourceThe Advertiser, 3/1/1997, p.12

Date30/03/2000

AreaMain Beach

ActivitySwimming

NameAndrija Rojcezic

SexM

Age30

InjuryLeft calf biten

Time14:00

Species-

Source-

Date16/12/2002

AreaMiami Lake

ActivitySwimming

NameBeau Martin

SexM

Age23

InjuryFATAL

Time2:30

SpeciesBull shark

SourceT. Peake, GSAF; Northern Territory News, 12/20/2002, p.9

Date08/02/2003

AreaBurleigh Lake

ActivitySwimming

NameBob Purcell

SexM

Age84

InjuryFATAL

TimeMorning

Species2m Bull shark

SourceT. Peake, GSAF; Sunday Territorian, 2/9/2003, p.9

Date19/12/2007

AreaBroadwater

ActivitySwimming

NameJosh Edwards

SexM

Ageteen

InjuryHand bitten

TimeMorning

SpeciesMedium Shark

Sourcegoldcoast.com.au

Date17/04/2008

AreaCoolangatta

ActivitySwimming

Name-s

SexM

Age19

InjuryThigh bitten

TimeMorning

SpeciesSmall Shark

Sourcegoldcoast.com.au

Date20/03/2012

AreaNobbys Beach

ActivitySurfing

NameBilly O'Leary

SexM

Age20

InjuryLeg bitten

Time17:00

SpeciesBull shark

SourceJ. Pierce, The Courier Mail, 20/3/2012

Images courtesy Tourism & Events Queensland, Tourism Australia, Destination Gold Coast & Getty Images

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