Helicopter patrols spot 200 sharks

SYDNEY - More than 200 sharks, mostly hammerheads, were spotted during a 15-day helicopter surveillance off Australian beaches this summer but no decision has been made on whether further helicopter shark patrols will be used in New South Wales.

One great white, 210 hammerheads and 10 other unidentified sharks were spotted during the trial, conducted on weekends and public holidays in December and January.

The great white was spotted off the Central Coast, well away from swimmers, state primary industries minister Steve Whan said.

Any of the sharks thought to pose a danger to beach-goers were reported to surf life saving bodies but no beaches were closed, he added.

The trial was undertaken with a view to them possibly being introduced full-time. Fixed-wing aircraft shark patrols are next to useless but the state Government was willing to give helicopters a go, mainly because of their hovering ability.

The helicopter patrols, run by a Newcastle-based firm, covered beaches on 202km of coastline between Newcastle and Wollongong.

"No decision has yet been made on whether an aerial surveillance trial will be repeated," Whan said.

There have been few shark attacks reported in NSW this summer.


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