A GREAT white shark could be in Lake Macquarie, according to five shark experts who looked at pictures taken in Croudace Bay.
After a spate of bull shark sightings in the lake, it’s now believed the greatest predator in the ocean is living in the waterway’s diverse marine habitat.
Sightings of great whites in the lake have been known, but the photos appear to be proof.
James Cook University fisheries researcher Alastair Harry said the picture looked like a great white.
‘‘It has a pointed snout, which is something you’d associate with a great white,’’ Dr Harry said.
CSIRO shark expert Barry Bruce said it was a great white.
‘‘I can confirm that they are photos of a great white shark,’’ Mr Bruce said.
‘‘The area of coast comprising Stockton Beach, Bennetts Beach and Mungo Brush and adjacent continental shelf waters are part of a known and well-publicised white shark nursery area,’’ Mr Bruce said.
‘‘Sharks are most common in the area through late winter, spring and early summer.
‘‘It is not an area where white sharks breed, but it is an area where juveniles are common.’’
South Australian shark ecologist Charlie Huveneers said it ‘‘could potentially’’ be a great white shark, but it was ‘‘hard to make a definitive identification based on the pictures’’.
Dr Huveneers said great whites had been ‘‘documented to be found in estuaries’’.
Queensland shark researcher Jonathan Werry said it was ‘‘possibly a juvenile, less than three metres in length’’.
‘‘The shape of the head, distinctive dorsal fin and other distinguishing body features suggest this is likely a [great] white shark,’’ Dr Werry said.
Belmont’s Andrew Thirkettle sent the photographs to the Newcastle Herald.
Mr Thirkettle said a friend took the photo last Tuesday.
‘‘He was pulling in crab traps at Croudace Bay,’’ Mr Thirkettle said.
New Zealand shark specialist Malcolm Francis said it could be a great white.
‘‘The pointed snout and large gill slits are consistent with that,’’ Dr Francis said.
A NSW Department of Primary Industries spokesman said it was a whaler shark, but was unable to make further comment.
Dr Harry said whaler sharks were a family of more than 50 species of sharks that include bull sharks, tiger sharks, bronze whalers and dusky whalers.
‘‘Bull sharks, great whites and tiger sharks are usually attributed to attacks on people,’’ he said.
The Herald recently published photos of a bull shark caught in Eraring Power Station’s outlet canal. Sailor Chris Caldecoat said there were more bull sharks in the lake ‘‘than I have ever seen’’.
GREAT WHITE SHARK
■ Scientific name: Carcharadon carcharias
■ Distribution: Found throughout the world in temperate and subtropical oceans, including the coastal waters of NSW
■ Size: About 120-150cm at birth and can grow to at least 6m in length. Unconfirmed reports of individuals up to 7m
■ Characteristics: Torpedo-shaped body, coloured grey to grey-brown on the upper surface and white below. Large, serrated triangular teeth, very small second dorsal and anal fins, and a distinct keel before the broad crescent-shaped tail