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Two-metre shark shuts Port Fairy beach

MATT NEAL
25 Jan, 2012 04:00 AM

A SHARK sighting at Port Fairy’s East Beach led to the popular swimming and surfing spot being temporarily closed yesterday.

The shark was spotted at 11.30am by the pilot of an ultralight plane, who saw the creature near the old Port Fairy tip site north of the main beach.

A lifeguard and a volunteer lifesaver took an inflatable rescue boat (IRB) out to investigate and confirmed the two-metre-long shark’s presence soon after.

Lifeguard Jackson Fary said the beach was shut down about 11.45am when confirmation of the shark was received.

“We told everyone to get out of the water — there was about 500 people on the beach,” he said.

“It had been really busy since about 10am and it was getting busier. Everyone was really helpful. They listened to us and stayed calm the whole time. No one went out for a swim and no one refused to come out of the water.”

The beach was closed until 1.15pm.

“When they were out in the IRB they were following the shark and it was heading further out to sea,” Mr Fary said.

“When they went out again later they couldn’t find it.”

One witness said that while some people packed up and left the beach after the sighting, many were not letting it dampen their holiday spirits, continuing to splash in the shallows and play beach cricket.

Mr Fary estimated there were 450 people at the beach within an hour.

Mr Fary thanked the off-duty volunteer lifesavers at the beach and the ultralight plane pilot for notifying the lifeguards.

“There were a lot of surf club members down here with their families and they helped people out of the water.”

Initial reports suggested that the two-metre-long shark was a tiger shark, although this was not confirmed.

A local surfer told The Standard he’d never seen a shark in 18 years of surfing at Port Fairy.

 

MATT NEAL, 2012, ARTICLE: Two-metre shark shuts Port Fairy beach. 25 Jan, 2012 04:00 AM. [The Warrnambool Standard online]. Available at http://www.standard.net.au/ [Accessed 28 January 2012]
IMAGE:Beach-goers stay on the sand at Port Fairy's East Beach as an inflatible rescue boat patrols the water after yesterday's shark sighting. 25 Jan, 2012 04:00 AM [The Warrnambool Standard online]. Available at http://www.standard.net.au/ [Accessed 28 January 2012]