Warning to tourists after lifeguard's close call with monster great white

·4-min read

Last Friday afternoon lifeguard Logan Specht was out surfing on North Stradbroke Island when he had a run-in with a three-metre shark.

"He more or less thought it was all over Red Rover," Logan's uncle Russell Specht said, as he explained how Logan attempted to manoeuvre his board to ward off the huge shark.

On Monday, Mr Specht shared a remarkable drone photo on social media of a huge shark off the coast of North Stradbroke Island, but the picture only tells part of the story.

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Mr Specht said seeing tourists out in the water over the weekend was the catalyst for him to bring awareness to the danger on the popular island, east of Brisbane.

On Saturday, there were about 30 or so people out in the water at Frenchman's Beach, oblivious to the sharks lurking in the water.

A massive shark was spotted near Frenchman's Beach on North Stradbroke Island while tourists were about. Source: Instagram/jimmymell via @russellspecht
A massive shark was spotted near Frenchman's Beach on North Stradbroke Island while tourists were about. Source: Instagram/jimmymell via @russellspecht

"It was one of those gorgeous days, the sun was out, the water was nice, the waves are really good and were just so many tourists out there with no idea," Mr Specht said.

Locals like Mr Specht have had their fair share of run-ins with sharks on the island, though he says he's never drawn blood.

With Covid travel restrictions no longer in place, tourists have been coming to North Stradbroke Island in droves, and Mr Specht has a few words of advice for those wanting to swim.

"If in doubt don't go out," he said.

"It's just a case of bringing the tourists into line."

While Frenchman's Beach is beautiful, Mr Specht suggests tourists give Cylinder Beach a go, as it is much safer for people unfamiliar to the water off North Stradbroke Island.

Source: Yahoo / Getty
Source: Yahoo / Getty

Behaviour of Stradbroke tourists shocks locals

Being in the water for more than 60 years, Russell Specht knows how to best keep himself safe while out in the water, and he says conditions are different on the island when compared to the mainland.

On Sunday, Mr Specht saw a group of beginner surfers trying to catch waves at a part of Frenchman's Beach which is known as 'shark alley' among the locals.

He then witnessed a group of surfers paddle halfway down the beach, which is the "worst thing" one could do given the dangerous current. The group then paddled out 500 metres, while locals watched on in disbelief.

"We'd never seen it, in all my time on the island and we just went, 'what's going on?'. It's just a case of tourist awareness," he said.

Frenchman's Beach in Stradbroke island is tough for lifesavers to access. Source: stradbrokeisland.com
Frenchman's Beach in Stradbroke island is tough for lifesavers to access. Source: stradbrokeisland.com

It's not the first time he's seen people not from the island swim out into the deep and it's something Mr Specht said he would never do.

"You still see people going for those oceans swimming for 200 metres out and a kilometre down the beach and you just go 'Why?'," he said.

"You could pay me $500,000 and I still wouldn't do that."

Photo of Deadman's Beach, a popular tourist destination on North Stradbroke Island off Brisbane
North Stradbroke Island is popular among tourists, but some don't care for themselves while swimming on the island on local says. Source: AAP

There are limited lifeguards on Stradbroke Island as it is. In winter there are about two or three on duty, and they patrol five beaches on the island, two of which are not accessible by vehicle, Mr Specht explained

To get to Frenchman's Beach, lifeguards have to get down around 400 steps. Mr Specht added there's been a few times he's had to get on a jet ski and help out a tourist struggling in the water.

That's why he shared the photo of the shark in the water, not to stir up a sensationalist story, but to remind tourists there are sharks out there and anyone in the water needs to be aware.

Right now, whales are migrating off the coast of North Stradbroke Island, so the sharks are following and the water itself can also pose a massive risk, with rips and currents not being manageable for everyone.

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