Packs of sharks menacing Gold Coast beaches

BRISBANE - Large packs of sharks have been spotted along the Gold Coast, hunting big schools of bait fish off some of the country's most popular surf beaches.

A couple of beaches were closed on Tuesday once the sharks began moving closer to shore, and all lifeguards along the tourist strip have been put on alert to watch for the dark clouds of bait fish as they move along the coastline.

Gold Coast Council chief lifeguard Warren Young said large schools of bait fish followed by packs of sharks were seen moving along the northern end of the Gold Coast by helicopter crews.

"In fact we had to close a couple of beaches near the Seaway at Southport around midday on Tuesday because they were coming in a little bit close, although generally they've been staying out a bit wider," he said.

"One of the things about the schools of sharks is that at least they're concentrating mainly on the bait fish, but having said that we're just warning swimmers to stay between the flags and heed the advice of lifeguards.

"And surfers thinking of going out early in the morning or towards the late evening need to be cautious if there's a lot of fish around.

"If they see a large school of fish or birds diving into them, they should give them a wide berth and maybe come in for a while until they pass through, because usually there are bigger fish chasing them," he said.

Mr Young said the ocean along the Gold Coast was pristine at the moment and masses of bait fish were near some of the area's top surfing spots.

"The waters as clear as crystal, there's a lot of bait fish around, and also the bigger fish chasing them because they're the food source of course," he said.

"As well as the outside beaches they're also coming through the estuarine areas, the mouths of Currumbin and Tallebudgera Creeks."

There was always the risk of the feeding frenzy drawing shark packs very close to shore.

"When big sharks attack a school of bait fish they can move in very, very close to the beach at times because they're concentrating so much on the food source," he said.

"If the bait fish remain I think we can expect to see the predators remain with them for sure."

- AAP

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