A local diver was shocked to find a 2-metre mako shark hanging on a buoy rope off the NSW coast at the HMAS Adelaide dive site.
Disturbing images have been released by marine photographer Robbert Westerdyk, who found the dead mako shark on Saturday after it had been strung up by the tail. The Mako shark was stabbed through the chest and hung on a mooring buoy.
“At the end of our dive we came across this barbaric scene, a two-metre mako shark that had been tied up by its tail,” Mr. Westerdyk told the Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate.
“It was a horrible thing to see if this was a land creature, the perpetrator would get locked up.” Mr Westerdyk said he took photographs of the scene and then cut the shark free and let it sink to the bottom.
“It can only be have done by fishermen who should not have been anywhere near the site as it is a marine sanctuary and no fishing is allowed,” he said.
Since there was no way to find out what exactly happened with the shark in the water, Mr Westerdyk was left with only speculations.
Mr. Westerdyk continued: “Aside from fishermen, maybe it was meant to be a gag, maybe it was meant to scare divers or bring other predators to the area to scare divers. But in 40 years of diving I have never seen anything like that.”
Mr Westerdyk, a builder who has been diving in the area for some 40 years, said he had only ever seen one mako shark in the wild before.
“They’re normally a deep ocean fish and they’re out there chasing the pelagic fish,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“They usually don’t give us any grief at all, but they are a really nice looking fish. They’re very sleek and they’re very fast.”
Glen Tritton, spokesperson for the Department Primary Industries Director of Fisheries Compliance, said it was difficult to point fingers on the person or people responsible for the brutal shark killing.
Dr. David Powter, a senior environmental science lecturer at Newcastle University’s Ourimbah campus, says it appears to be a deliberate act of cruelty.
“This is such a senseless act for such a beautiful creature and it would apply if it wasn’t a shark, if it wasn’t a marine organism,” he said. “It’s just such a senseless act to take a life like that for no purpose.”
Dr. Powter says the culprits are most likely recreational and game fishers who are known to target mako sharks.
“It’s a bit disappointing that if the animal is caught, then it’d be wasted effectively by being tossed back,” he said.
There is no ban on fishing for mako sharks, but this one was found in the 200m exclusion zone around HMAS Adelaide, a former Royal Australian Navy frigate sunk as a dive wreck two years ago.
Shortfin mako sharks like the one discovered by Mr Westerdyk inhabit offshore temperate and tropical seas worldwide, normally far from land though occasionally closer to shore, around islands or inlets, reports the Daily Mail.