A slashed eagle ray and a severed sharks head. A severed shark head. Photo: Jenny Ough
An eagle ray, right side up, with deep cuts near its head and across its wings. Photo: Jenny Ough
Mangled shark body parts. Photo: Jenny Ough
An injury to the back of the head of a two-metre tiger shark. Photo: Jenny Ough
A Perth diver disgusted at the sight of severed shark heads and slashed bodies of marine creatures says some locals have been “whipped into a frenzy” over the possible threat of sharks.
Jenny Ough told Fairfax Media she was excited about photographing pregnant male seahorses when she headed into the water beside Ammunition Jetty at Woodman Point on December 23 but was instead met with morbid scenes of fish carnage.
She said she’d heard about a number of similar incidents that other divers had seen and said action needs to be taken to stop the “wasteful killing.”
Ms Ough said she believed a disproportionate amount of attention on shark attacks had encouraged some people to treat sharks and other marine life cruelly.
WA has seen seven fatal attacks in the past three years and sharks have attracted a lot of attention in the state.
While she saw a pyjama squid, pregnant male sea horses and a dolphin whizz by on her dive, those great experiences were overshadowed by what else she saw.
Within the space of three or four pylons she saw a severed shark tail, three small decapitated shark heads and two dead sting rays with deep vertical cuts along its wings.
“At this point, I was struggling to continue the dive, so moved back into the inner portion of the jetty to find some peace,” Ms Ough said.
But that was not the end of the disturbing scenes.
“I headed to another pylon then saw a beautiful tiger shark about 2 metres long lying on the bottom on its side, panting weakly as if it was suffocating,” she said.
Ms Ough turned the shark, that she believed had been caught and kept out of the water too long before being returned, upright.
“It took quite a few breaths there [I could see it’s gills moving in and out], then I thought I should start trying to swim it along a bit, when as I started to move, its tail fired up and off it went,” she said.
“The strength with which that spectacular tiger shark swam off with gives me some hope that whatever happened to it topside was not too damaging, and that maybe, just maybe, it will survive. So many others did not survive that night.”
Earlier in the year divers recorded a similar rescue operation which saved a tiger shark that was stabbed and left to die off the same jetty.
Ms Ough said she was aware of a group of people who go the the jetty and chum up the water, catch sharks, haul them up to get their “hero shots,” then cut them up and throw them back.
She said she did not mind people catching fish to eat by described this type of behaviour as senseless.
“They are nutters,” she said.
“This jetty is just a ‘kill zone’ for teenagers and crazed fishermen – not rational people.
“They’ll tell you they’re doing a community service.”
Edith Cowan University school of psychology and social science senior lecturer Dr Jennifer Loh said a disproportionate amount of attention on sharks in WA across the few years as a result of shark attacks, could have led some people to have a “warped” view of the threat that sharks and marine life pose.
“The perception of sharks is created through things like social media and what people see on TV and how much they see it through these forums, it does affect people’s perceptions of whether sharks are bad or good,” she said.
“We humans in general other than people like divers don’t have much exposure with sharks, so we take our knowledge of them from other places.
“If someone’s been hurt or horribly mauled by a shark, people can have a very visual impression of them and it lasts for a while in the mind even though most scientists would probably have a different perspective on the animals.”
While numbers obtained by Fairfax Media on December 14, 2012 showed that there were 14,580 stories about sharks across WA media outlets until that point in that year, the number of shark-related stories in WA media according to Sentia Media went up to 21,920 in 2013.
The Department of Fisheries has not compiled full details of the number of complaints it has received about cruel behaviour against marine life this year but urged Ms Ough to contact the department in regard to the incident.
Department spokesman Ashley Malone said it would not be appropriate to comment without details of this specific incident.
“The department does not condone the torture or inhumane treatment of fish,” he said.
“As noted earlier this year… there is a National Code of Practice for Recreational and Sport Fishing, which promotes responsible fishing; including looking after our fisheries, protecting the environment, treating fish humanely and respecting the rights of others.
“Education is considered to be the most effective tool in limiting unnecessary suffering and we encourage all fishers to adhere to that code.”
Mr Malone urged anyone who had information about such incidents to report them online.
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