Packs of sharks have forced the closure of beaches around the Sydney area of Australia in recent weeks.
AVs Shark patrol helicopter patrolling near-deserted beaches with some people bathing in shallow water (6 shots)
TV Hammerhead sharks below the surface of the water (3 shots)
TV & SV People on beach enjoying the sun (3 shots)
GV Beach with few people
TVs People surfing
TV Sharks (2 shots)
TV Surfer and shark nearby (2 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Packs of sharks have forced the closure of beaches around the Sydney area of Australia in recent weeks. Sightings indicate the sharks are of the hammerhead type -- long feared as potential man-eaters. The largest of the three hammerhead species classed as dangerous grows to about 4.5 metres (15 feet).
SYNOPSIS: In the biggest shark scare of the Australians summer so far, schools of up to 100 sharks have been sighted in surfing areas off the coastline around Sydney. The shark reports had their effect on swimmers, and beaches were almost deserted. The few people who did decide to catch some sun and sea chose not to risk swimming too far out from the beach, staying in the shallower water close to land.
The hammerhead sharks are believed to be following schools of marlin into warm northern waters. Individual sharks broke from the main packs to move towards the beaches...some came so far they were only meters from swimmers normally enjoy the surf.
Hundreds of beach-goers could do nothing more than sunbathe as beaches remained closed for most of the day over a period of nearly two weeks.
However, despite the danger, and warnings from lifesavers, some surfboarders continued to catch the waves in defiance of orders from beach inspectors. Spotter planes and helicopters alternatively reported "beach clear" and then warned "sharks" as new packs cruised off the coast. There has been one report of a shark attack. A week ago a man in shallow water had his feet lacerated.