Fishermen reel in big bull shark near site of Sydney Harbour attack

The intense battle to reel in the 2.5 metre-long shark took over an hour, showing just how strong they are.

The moment two fishermen reeled in a "monster" bull shark just a few hundred metres from where last week's horrific shark attack took place in Sydney Harbour has been caught on camera, offering an insight into how common the animals are in the area.

Angler Billy and his crewmate Miles set off from Elizabeth Bay earlier this week, the harbourside suburb where Lauren O'Neill was badly bitten on January 29. The pair were minutes into their trip when they came across their first find — a more than two-metre long bull shark, found off Garden Island, about 500 metres from where O'Neill was mauled.

The battle to reel in the shark took over an hour for the two men due to the animals' strength. After being tagged, it was eventually released back into the ocean.

The 2.5 metre bull shark.
The 2.5 metre bull shark was found just a few hundred metres from where Lauren O'Neill was mauled. Source: 9News

Fisherman see bull sharks 'all the time' in Sydney Harbour

While experts say that sharks rarely seek humans out intentionally, and attacks mostly occur when people are mistaken for the animals' regular prey, swimmers have been urged to practice caution around the water in the early morning and at dusk.

"We see them coming up for our fish all the time," Miles told 9News of bull sharks in the harbour. "We didn't really want to go for them, but now [we know] they're out here...there are some real monsters in Sydney."

Fisherman play crucial role

Recreational fisherman play a crucial role for researchers. Where possible, anglers aim to tag the sharks so they can be recorded into a Department of Primary Industries (DPI) database. Aussies can then access that information, which is made public, "to check for sharks" to see if they still want to take a dip.

A fisherman tagging the bull shark.
Fisherman play a crucial role in tagging the sharks so the DPI can monitor their whereabouts. Source: 9News

Australia records highest number of deadly shark attacks across globe

Meanwhile, recent data has revealed Australia is home to a disproportionate number of deadly shark attacks in comparison with the rest of the world, with isolated areas carrying a greater risks.

The 10 fatal attacks globally in 2023 doubled from the five in the previous year, with four of last year's deaths occurring in Australia.

Surfers were slightly more prevalent in the data than people swimming or wading, experiencing 42 per cent of the 69 unprovoked bites around the world, 22 per cent of which were in Australia.

A bull shark.
Bull sharks are known to frequent Sydney Harbour in the summer months particularly. Source: Getty

Spearfishing was the most common activity in 22 attacks left out of the study with the attacks being considered "provoked" incidents. The study focused on bites occurring in a shark's natural habitat without human provocation, the most useful for studying shark behaviour, according to researchers compiling the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File.

Death tally still below 2020 peak, research finds

The four fatal attacks in Australian waters in 2023 remained below the decade's peak of six deaths in 2020.

While population density was linked to shark attacks by bringing increased interactions between people and sharks, swimming or surfing in more populated areas reduced the likelihood of fatalities when attacks occurred.

Australia's beach safety was "second to none" at popular patrolled beaches, but remote and regional beaches were dangerous due to their isolation.

Shark attack victim Lauren O'Neill.
Shark attack victim Lauren O'Neill.

"This is because when an attack happens and there is beach safety, you can get a tourniquet on sooner and save the person's life," researcher Joe Miguez said.

Sydneysider Lauren O'Neill survived being bitten by what is believed to be a bull shark swimming near a jetty in the city's densely populated eastern suburbs in January, the first recorded attack in Sydney Harbour for over a decade.

She thanked her "heroic and very kind neighbours" for the critical assistance they quickly provided.

with AAP

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