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Shark warning for Sydney beaches as flood waters increase activity

Sydneysiders are being urged to avoid swimming at murky beaches as the recent floods and torrential rain on the east coast of Australia might have caused an increase of sharks in the water.

Lawrence Chlebeck, Marine Biologist from Humane Society International (HSI) told Yahoo News Australia that sharks are "definitely attracted to coastal waters after heavy bouts of rain" so swimmers should be wary.

"Sharks are very intelligent animals and they've specialised in making the most of feeding opportunities," Mr Chlebeck explained.

"One of the things that sharks have learned to do is follow rivers after heavy rainfall because lots of different things will be washed into the ocean."

A Bull Shark swims in gloomy, dark conditions off the coast of Jupiter, Florida
Bull sharks are known to swim into rivers and waterways following heavy rainfall. Source: Getty

Dr Leonardo Guida, Shark Scientist at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, explained that a lot of nutrient runoffs from the land washes into the waterways and that attracts a lot of fish, which in turn attracts the sharks.

"The food chain goes into full gear and the bull sharks are taking advantage of what is essentially a feeding opportunity," he told Yahoo News Australia.

"What we do know, especially with bull sharks that are quite common along the NSW coast and the Sydney area, with that river outflow, there's a good chance there'll be an increasing presence of bull sharks in these areas."

Bull sharks can survive in freshwater and often follow upriver streams, Mr Chlebeck said.

"They would be the ones that are most likely to go in swimming into the flooded areas," he said.

"I always recommend people don't go swimming after heavy rains and that's definitely true of the times we're living in right now."

Bull shark being spotted in floodwaters

In January, following extensive rain in Queensland, a bull shark was spotted in floodwaters in a swamped park, just meters away from playing children.

"The shark had full access to the park, it was coming in and out. Kids are always playing in that park when it floods," Judi Ellis, who filmed the ordeal in a Maryborough park 300km north of Brisbane, told Yahoo News Australia.

She believes it came from the Mary River which had flooded at the time, causing the river's edge to join the park.

A bull shark in floodwaters in QLD park
The bull shark was seen swimming in a flooded park near playing kids in Maryborough, 300km north of Brisbane. Source: Supplied

"My husband said it was only about a meter [long]. It was only a baby. But a bigger one can absolutely get in," she said.

When she first saw the shark it was ten meters closer to where the kids were playing, but she "followed it down the edge of the river" where it was "having a little feed".

Despite nearby Gympie experiencing devastating floods this week, Maryborough managed to stay relatively dry.

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