While the fierce debate rages about shark baiting, here in Gladstone we’ve been conspicuously silent on the topic. That’s because we’ve been cheerfully killing big sharks near our beaches for many years with our usual efficiency, and without attracting any unwanted media attention.
Now I’m not sure if the baits are catching locally grown killers, or attracting rogue man-eaters to our swimming areas, but my first experience with baited shark lines occurred as lad, when my mate and I swam out to one of newly placed red floats off Tannum Sands Beach. We thought they were something to do with an upcoming surf carnival, which, in a sick sort of way, they were.
Eventually we splashed our way back to the beach where some thoughtful soul told us the sordid truth, instantly ending my long distance dog paddling career.
Fortunately, my natural Australian gambling instinct overcame my fear of re-entering the water. Basically, each time I go for a swim, I bet on the fact that any passing sharks will take someone else first; those odds have also favoured the other 99.99998% of swimmers surrounding me.
I’ve always viewed sharks as hateful, evil, cruel and terrifying monsters; sort of like Rupert Murdoch. But shark cull protestors insist that they’re much maligned, misunderstood and unappreciated creatures; sort of like Clive Palmer.
It’s a big ask to get Oz swimmers to rethink their stance on shark baiting, particularly when statistics show we are the preferred dining choice of the worlds’ shark population. And the movie JAWS hasn’t helped their cause either.
But before we start arguing about whether or not to pull the hooks from the water, we have to think very carefully about where it all might end: Equal rights for Crocs? Justice for Jellyfish?
We’re at the pointy end here folks.