Sharks are a sign that Hastings River is healthy, say fishos

Shark in the Hastings River. Photo by Arthur Minter.
Shark in the Hastings River. Photo by Arthur Minter.

When reader Arthur Minter took this photo of a shark in the Hastings River at 9am on Wednesday May 1, he had no idea that it would cause a social media frenzy on the Wauchope Gazette Facebook page.

Arthur said there were three of them, just a metre from the shore, opposite the milk factory, and he had to stop his dog going in for a swim.

The response from readers to our Facebook post was fast and furious.

Troy Durose caught these bull sharks in the Hastings River in Wauchope.

Troy Durose caught these bull sharks in the Hastings River in Wauchope.

Troy Durose posted the photo above of a recent catch.

"We caught these fellas right near Rocks Ferry bridge in Wauchope and before you ask - yes, they were eaten. I've fished this river up and down for years and it's absolutely chock full of 'em."

Troy says that for bait, he uses blackfish fillet, live mullet or fillet, and said they even get caught up in the witch hat traps when crabbing.

Shannon Wereta-Abbott suggesting netting the sharks so people could swim in the river, though some do anyway.

Troy Durose said that would net everything else as well.

"I've never seen the river as healthy as it is now, and that's due to it not being ravaged by nets. Sharks are a sign that our river system is healthy. A healthy river is more important than the needs of those who wish to swim in it," he added.

Stacey Morris has always swum in the river knowing there are sharks there. Katie Finnis lived at Rocks Ferry for years and saw sharks but it never stopped her or her friends from skiing and swimming.

"It's no different to swimming at the beach," she said.

However, Ian Houseman took the opportunity to announce that his days of swimming across to the island at Rocks Ferry are now offer.

Mick Debreceny said Arthur's photo is of a bull shark. Bull sharks are large, robust sharks that are known to attack humans, and live in estuaries, freshwater and at sea.

"I've caught heaps of them over the years. Even had two on at once one time. They get right up in the fresh water. My brother saw 12 up near Bain's Bridge last year," said Mick, who doesn't eat them.

"Nah, I let them go, they are good sport and an important part of the river's ecosystem. They are babies, they would be the last "hatch" they grow to about 2.5 meters. The big ones come into the river to give birth to them."

There has been one fatal bull shark attack in the Hastings River. On November 12 1947, this paper reported a 'sudden and terrible tragedy'. Four brothers, Stanley (22), Rupert and Edwin (12) and Charles Elford (9) were enjoying a swim near Hacks Ferry on the Maria River 12 miles from the mouth of the Hastings in Port Macquarie.

Without warning, a shark attacked Rupert and grabbed his leg. He broke away and made for the bank, closely followed by Charles. The shark then turned on Edwin, taking hold of his right leg just above the knee. As he screamed out, Stanley, without hesitation, went to his aid and taking him by the armpits, tried to pull him away from the shark.

This newspaper reported that 'the terrible tug-o-war ended when the shark made off with Edwin's leg.' Stanley carried his brother to the bank and used ha belt as a tourniquet but Edwin died shortly afterwards. Rupert who suffered a badly lacerated left leg and knee struggled the 600 yards to his home. It took 25 minutes to call the ambulance at Port Macquarie.