Huge group of sharks seen just metres away from busy beach

The shark sighting is said to be the most significant in the area in more than 15 years.

A large group of sharks were spotted in the shallows of a popular Gold Coast beach over the weekend, in what an expert is calling the area's largest shark sighting in more than 15 years.

Dozens of hammerheads have been filmed by stunned locals at Palm Beach as well as off Burleigh Heads in recent weeks.

Queensland MP for Burleigh, Michael Hart, was one of the locals to post on social media about them, after videoing one shark just metres off shore on Saturday.

A photo of one hammerhead swimming close to the shore at Palm Beach in Queensland. An aerial shot of the sharks.
Gold Coast locals shared footage of a large group of hammerhead sharks spotted at Palm Beach and off Burleigh Heads. Source: blondenomads and Michael Hart MP

"Small sharks attacking a bait ball at Palm Beach today. Stay out of the water if you see this near you," he warned on Facebook.

Incredible footage was also taken by a family from up above, showing the large number of sharks interacting and feeding, as someone walks through the water nearby.

Why are the sharks suddenly appearing off Burleigh Heads?

Although it's not uncommon to see small sharks in the Gold Coast, marine biologist Olaf Meynecke told the ABC it's the most significant shark activity in a while, with 40 hammerheads believed to have been spotted off Burleigh Heads since late-March.

"We actually have juvenile scalloped hammerhead sharks right next to the beach, we're talking about 40, 50 metres from the beach," Dr Meynecke from Griffith University told the publication.

"I literally pay thousands of dollars to swim with sharks in other places around the world and here we have them at our doorstep and in two metres of water."

According to the expert, the large group of sharks have been coming to the area because of warm weather.

"Temperatures have been quite stable, around the 25 to 26 degrees, and hammerheads definitely like the warmer temperatures — especially the younger ones. It's good for growing faster," he told the publication.

Gold Coast diver and surfer Laurel Collofell captured video of the hammerhead sharks while swimming with them at Burleigh Heads earlier this month in what she said was a "once in a lifetime opportunity". She said she has seen the sharks most mornings when going for a surf this month.

Sharks deemed safe, but swimmers should still stay vigilant

Dr Meynecke said that while swimmers should be wary, interactions like this with fairly safe sharks should encourage people to "respect" the ocean and its creatures.

"Those juvenile ones don't actually present any danger unless somebody tries to grab the tail and flip it around and kiss it," he said. "Interactions like this, where people get to know the marine environment a bit better, really helps with that."

While the small hammerheads have been said not to pose a risk, baitfish, stingrays and other food for sharks also attracts larger shark species, with one local sharing a warning on the community shark alert app, Dorsal.

"A mate went swimming with some hammerheads that were chasing some sting rays, they were harmless just looking for a feed. Bullies (bull sharks) have been know to come and have a look also so be careful," they said last week.

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