An angler who paraded a massive bull shark he hooked in a NSW lake has whipped up a storm on social media.
An image of the unnamed fisher with the hanging, dead shark, that appears to be around three metres long, was shared on the Facebook page of Offshore Fishing NSW on Monday after it was landed at Lake Macquarie, south of Newcastle, at the weekend.
By Tuesday afternoon the image had been shared almost 3000 times and attracted almost 5000 comments, with many decrying the catch as the senseless killing of a magnificent animal.
“Used to see the big girl in salts bay all the time following the mullet.n salmon Now look where she ism (sic) im no greeny but such a waste … of an awesome animal,” user Richard Benson wrote.
“Graceful product of millions of years of evolution reduced to a pointless trophy – and I don’t mean the angler,” said Bernie Catchpole.
“The dumbing down of the human race … firstly you kill a big shark that is full of heavy metals and amonia (sic) and inedible … and then post it on social media for everyone to shoot you down for killing it … dumb and dumber,” Stephen Monckton added.
But the fisher also had many backers who blasted the kneejerk reaction of “greenies” and “shark huggers”.
“Straight to the trophy cabinet boys! Any chance in converting this into a coffin? I want my grandkids to know I was a proud culler!” said one.
“If it was a tuna or a marlin no one would give a s—!!! So sick of all the shark huggers these days !!! Well done on a great capture !!,” wrote another.
Offshore Fishing NSW noted that the shark “ended up dead after being gut hooked and a huge fight”.
The Newcastle Herald reported that the anglers had only pulled the massive shark aboard after it died.
“Despite efforts to ‘swim’ the shark and revive it after the battle, they were unable to bring it back for a release,” the paper noted.
Shark researcher at Bond University, Dr Daryl McPhee, said sport fishing for sharks – particularly bull sharks – had increased markedly in popularity in the past five years.
However, most of those anglers practised tag and release.
“My immediate reaction to that picture was, obviously, it is a large shark,” he said.
“Secondly, hanging the animal off a gantry like that is not the best look for the (sport fishing) sector and is atypical of the sport-fishing community.”
Dr McPhee said while the shark was large, it was far from the largest he’d seen, having tagged sharks of four metres in the course of his work.
Bull sharks, along with tiger and white sharks, account for the most unprovoked bites and fatalities worldwide and have been responsible for fatalities in Gold Coast waterways, Dr McPhee said.
They are unusual in that they can prosper in fresh water, and in the Amazon are known for eating antelopes, livestock and even sloths, he added.
Dr McPhee said with no data available on bull shark numbers, there is no way of determining whether or not a cull can be justified.
While Queensland law dictates that bull sharks greater than 1.5 metres cannot be targeted or retained by recreational fishers, Dr McPhee said the angler would not have breached any NSW or federal laws in catching this shark.
According to the federal Department of Environment and Energy, bull sharks are “known to be dangerous to humans”, but they do not “target humans as prey, rather the majority of shark attacks can be attributed to the shark confusing us with its normal prey”.
The picture emerged on the same day as spectacular footage of grey nurse sharks feeding on mullet in the shallows of Fingal Bay, on the northern Tweed Coast of NSW.