Shark alarm passes test after Anzac Day sighting

CLARENCE Valley Lifeguards have assured beach swimmers all their equipment is in good order after a shark alarm last weekend.

A swimmer, who was alerted to the possible presence of a shark between, Main and Convent beaches on Saturday morning, said he was told the shark alarm was not working and had not been working for some time.

But Clarence Valley Lifeguard supervisor, Mitch Imeson, said the alarm had sounded after a volunteer drone operator spotted what he thought was a shark swimming off the two beaches.

His story has support from Yamba Surf Life Saving Club member Cathy Dougherty, who said her daughter had heard the alarm sound and left the water on Saturday morning.

The swimmer who complained said he had not heard anything, and only learnt of the shark's presence when an off duty lifeguard paddled out to him.

"I had been enjoying a quiet Anzac Day swim from Convent to Main and back when this guy came paddling out to me yelling, "shark, shark, shark. Get out of the water'." the man, who does not want to be identified, said.

"I spoke to the drone operator later and he said there had been a 2.2 metre bull shark between the last swimmer and the beach. That was me."

But Mr Imeson told a different story.

"The UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) operator was not sure if it was shovel nosed (not dangerous) shark or not," he said.

"Before he could get an id on it, it swam off into deeper water. To be on the safe side, he alerted the lifeguard on the beach, who sounded the alarm. There's been a lot of shovel noses and rays out there."

He said as well as the alarm going off, two off-duty lifeguards paddled out to swimmers on boards.

Mr Imeson said he did not know if the man who made the complaint had been swimming too far from shore to hear the alarm.

"You don't know, he might have had his head in the water when it sounded," he said. "But between the three of them, they got everyone out of the water without incident."

Mr Imeson said the lifeguards had been on duty to provide support for the volunteer drone operator, whose work was funded by the NSW Department of Primary Industry.

"Because the person who runs the drone was uncomfortable working alone for the remainder of the season, we have rostered a lifeguard on duty for the last few weeks."

He said this provides some safety for swimmers at the beaches.

"There's quite a group of swimmers who go between Convent and Main beaches," he said.



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