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Report: Fish Guts Lured Sharks in Fatal Attack on Aussie Girl; Practice 'Discouraged'

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AMITY POINT, Australia -- Fishermen cleaning their catch at a boat ramp and throwing bloody scraps into the sea might have caused a fatal shark attack, a report says.

A government report into the mauling of student Sarah Whiley, 21, identifies the anglers' behaviour as a major safety worry for swimmers.

It recommends the practice be "discouraged" and calls for shark warning signs and more drumlines off Amity Point, North Stradbroke Island.

Ms Whiley was attacked in the area last Saturday and died soon after in a Brisbane hospital.

Her funeral was held on Friday.

The report said the waters there were rife with predatory sharks.

Its release confirmed a newspaper report that bloodied fish remains were thrown into the water moments before the attack.

It was also reported fishermen were casting buckets of burley into the nearby sea – as a boy thrashed a fish carcass in the water.

Eighteen sharks – measuring 1.3m to 2.2m – have been caught on drumlines there since they were installed in 1996. The four drumlines off Amity point were rebaited the day of the attack.

Victorian experts warned yesterday of an "inevitable" shark attack off popular beaches here.

They said a fatal mauling will be a result of a boom in the local seal population.

Big seal colonies enticed the predators closer to shore.

Great white sharks – involved in more attacks in Victorian waters than any other shark type – "stalk" the offshore areas of Victorian bay breaks.

Of 35 recorded Victorian attacks, seven were fatal. In the three cases where the species was identified, all were great whites.

In November, a shark thought to be a white pointer bit into a boat fishing offshore, near Barwon Heads.

Fishermen, charter boat operators and experienced observers tip further attacks.

fishing columnist Steve Cooper says great whites are common off Ocean Grove and near 13th Beach.

"They're known to stalk that area," Cooper said.

A charter boat operator who did not want to be named suggested a boom in seal numbers in recent years was enticing more sharks into the area.

"The bigger sharks' main food source is the seal, which we are seeing more and more of around Port Phillip Bay, close to the beaches," he said.

He said despite a general decline in shark numbers, the seals "will bring the sharks into recreational areas".

On Tuesday, a charter boat company reeled in a small mako shark only a kilometre off Portsea Surf Club.

The most recent documented shark attack in Victoria was on November 25 last year, when an 18-year-old surfer was attacked at Western Port Bay.


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