Warning after 'hundreds' of sharks spotted off popular Aussie beach

It's a timely reminder to follow important rules at the tourist hotspot.

A group of whale watchers got the shock of their lives when they spotted hundreds of sharks off a popular Aussie beach. Incredible of the footage of the scene has stunned viewers across the country, and prompted a warning from a wildlife expert.

"We were whale watching from the shore for about an hour when a big group of birds started to dive into the water so I launched my drone and instantly saw so many fish, sharks and turtles," Darcy Yarnold told Yahoo News Australia. "There were, I think, about 200 sharks in the area chasing a huge ball of fish."

Huge school of sharks off K'gari (Fraser Island)
The huge school of sharks were hundreds of metres from shore. Source: Darcy Yarnold

In the video captured by Mr Yarnold at K'gari's Orchid Beach, a huge school of sharks can be seen swimming through the water. The Queenslander described them as being "very close" at about 250-300 metres from the shore.

Keep out of the water

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Daryl McPhee, an Associate Professor of Environmental Science at Bond University, said it's a timely reminder for people to stay out of the water on K'gari, describing the island as a "naturally healthy ecosystem with lots of marine life and sharks".

"We know at this time of year, K'gari is renowned for sharks and there are sharks on K'gari in big numbers all year round so the video is not surprising," he said. "This is the time of year large schools of tailor are still present on the island and they provide excellent food for big shivers of sharks. The sharks are adept at finding their prey and once they find it they'll keep using that prey until it disperses.

While Professor McPhee said it's tricky to tell what kind of shark these are in the clip, he believes they're a species of whaler shark. "Those particular sharks aren't one of the big three responsible for most bites, which are tiger sharks, white sharks and bull sharks, but it's still ill-advised to go swimming with those sharks or swimming on the beach of K'gari in general," he explained, while pointing to the death of a spear fisherman on the island in 2020.

"The only reason there are not many bites on K'gari is because not many people go for a swim. If we had the same number (of people) as we have in the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast swimming each weekend and each day, we'd have a lot more bites there."

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