Bull shark snared off Swansea

A BULL shark caught off Swansea has stirred up a social media storm, with a photo of the enormous aquatic predator quickly gaining notoriety in Hunter fishing circles.

The image, shared by Offshore Fishing NSW, shows the dead shark hanging after “being gut hooked and a huge fight”. 

The creature towers over a man pictured beside its carcass, its length more than double his height. 

The group reports it was “right off the cleaning tables at Blacksmith”. 

“There must be plenty around,” Offshore Fishing NSW wrote.

It is understood the anglers hauled the creature aboard after it died. Despite efforts to “swim” the shark and revive it after the battle, they were unable to bring it back for a release.

The image was first shared on Monday night, two days after it was reportedly caught. By midday Tuesday the image had been shared more than 2500 times. 

The photo’s social media appearance drew an impassioned debate familiar to game fishers, who are sensitive to the politics around their enormous catches. 

Many argued the shark should not have died, while others pointed to the fact it was “gut hooked” as proof its death was inadvertent. Attempts to contact the angler on Tuesday have so far been unsuccessful. 

Spectacular images of sharks in the region have captured attention in recent days, most notably when footage of a hunt among the mullet off Fingal Bay emerged on Monday. 

But the deep waters off Lake Macquarie’s coast have earned their stripes as a happy hunting ground for those seeking a glimpse of large sharks, with half-tonne behemoths emerging at the end of several lines in recent years. The debate over whether catching sharks is humane is never far behind, prompting at least one angler to obscure his identity in reports of the catch. 

In March 2013 several Lake Macquarie men shared a 533.9 kilogram tiger shark on the continental shelf, about 30 kilometres off Swansea. 

Even that one fell short of the record, Glen Kirkwood’s 619kg beast snared in September of 1990. A year later, another tiger shark catch off Swansea caught attention at a comparatively small 319 kilograms in roughly the same area, 30 kilometres from the shore. The 25-year-old angler asked only to be identified as Ben due to concerns about the backlash.