Published: Fri, February 09, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

More Than 2000 Adult White Sharks Living Off Australia's Coast

More Than 2000 Adult White Sharks Living Off Australia's Coast

Around 5500 great white sharks are lurking in the waters off Australia's east coast, new research has revealed.

White sharks are now listed as an endangered species in the Convention on International Trade.

But an increase in attacks on surfers and swimmers has prompted some Australian states to push for the culling of the apex predator despite their protected status.

Until now, it was difficult to gather information about adult white sharks because they are hard to sample.

A CSIRO study into shark levels has found the number of great whites hasn't changed in the 20 years since the species was first protected.

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"This is crucial to developing effective policy outcomes that balance the sometimes conflicting aims of conservation initiatives and human-shark interaction risk management".

But breakthrough genetic and statistical methods means scientists can estimate shark numbers without having to catch or even see them, the CSIRO said in a statement on Friday.

But WA Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly says money should instead fund shark population research and individual shark shields and he will not be asking the Federal Government for permission to target Great White Sharks.

The researchers were not yet able to compile a total population estimate on the west coast - from southern Victoria to north-western Western Australia. A thorough estimation of the southwestern population has not yet been concluded due to the lack of direct estimates of juvenile survival rates, a key piece of data obtained by tagging a relatively high number of juvenile sharks.

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