Decapitated shark seen at popular swimming spot sparks safety fears

'You see it a lot at all the diving spots around the coastline.'

The discovery of a decapitated shark near a popular swimming spot has prompted a warning it’s only a matter of time before a child is killed.

While the beaches south of Perth are popular with tourists and locals, many remain unaware of what lies beneath the ocean surface. As a diver, Aaron Goodhew frequently sees the mutilated bodies of sharks as well as bait used to attract them like pig heads and chicken carcasses.

Although the fishing occurs at night, he’s concerned their discarded gruesome debris is likely attracting sharks to the area during the day, and increasing the danger to beachgoers. “My daughter is five years old and just getting into snorkelling. There’s no way I’d want her in the water knowing what’s on the bottom while she’s swimming,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

An image of the decapitated shark on a monument underwater.
The shark was hauled to an underwater marker and then taken to the tip. Source: Aaron Goodhew

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Goodhew noticed the headless tiger shark close to Busselton Jetty’s snorkelling entrance on Sunday. Measuring in at 1.35 metres from tail to the decapitation point, it’s estimated it would have originally been between 1.6 and 1.8 metres long.

He believes the fish was likely killed as a trophy. "A lot of these guys actively target them as a bit of a testosterone-fired thing. They think it's pretty macho," he said.

Call to ban shark fishing at popular swimming spots to protect kids

To highlight how close it was to swimmers, he placed the fish on a nearby underwater monument and snapped a photo, before hauling it out of the water and driving it to the tip.

The decapitated tiger shark on the back of a ute can be seen to the left. While an image on the right shows its body being measured.
After the tiger shark was measured, it was taken to the tip for disposal. Source: Aaron Goodhew

While shark fishing has been banned at beaches around Perth because baiting them poses an unacceptable danger to swimmers, the practice remains legal at popular tourist beaches south of the city, including Busselton.

"You see it a lot at all the diving spots around the coastline," he said.

Goodhew said he’s not opposed to regular fishing, but he thinks hauling in sharks close to swimmers flies in the face of community safety expectations.

“I’m not a tree hugger or a greenie. I just know it’s not ethically or morally right to be throwing carcasses back in the water when you’ve got kids swimming here,” he said.

“I honestly think it’s asking for trouble. I’m sure almost every adult would not want their child in that environment, so why do we allow it to happen?”

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