Diver takes awe-inspiring picture of hammerhead sharks off Australia’s east coast – but then sees a tiny, tragic detail
- A joyful day of diving was later tinged with sadness
- Scallop hammerheads are endangered species
An Australian diver’s awe-inspiring photo of hammerhead sharks off Queensland’s Gold Coast was later tinged with sadness when she noticed a small, tragic detail.
When Amber Bourke zoomed in on the photo taken underwater, she saw something horrible: one of the sharks had a hook hanging from its mouth.
“Great to be able to dive with endangered scallop hammerheads today,” she wrote on Instagram.
“Unfortunately, while editing this photo, I noticed that there is a hook and line stuck on the right side.”
Ms Bourke, who is a 14-time Australian freediving record holder, said it was her favorite shot of the day as she had all three sharks in one shot.
Before seeing them in the shallows off Burleigh Heads last Saturday, Ms Bourke had never seen scalloped hammerheads (pictured) in the wild
Before seeing them in the shallows off Burleigh Heads last Saturday, she had never seen scalloped hammerheads in the wild.
The fact that one of the creatures had a hook in its mouth changed the mood of the day.
She said Yahoo News that before he realized one of them was probably in a lot of pain, “there was a really good atmosphere down there, everyone just appreciated seeing these sharks in their natural habitat.”
Ms. Burke wasn’t the only one concerned about the sharks’ welfare last weekend, others included.
Environmental scientist Paula Muscat was frustrated with how some people behaved around the animals.
Upon closer inspection, a hook can be seen hanging from the shark
When Amber Bourke (pictured) zoomed in on the shot taken underwater, she saw something horrific: one of the sharks had a hook hanging from its mouth
She saw people in the water aggressively following the hammerheads and thought some of them had little regard for animal welfare.
“All these snorkelers were chasing them with their cameras in front of their Instagram and it was so disheartening,” she said.
Although scalloped hammerheads do not actively seek out human prey, they are very defensive and will attack if provoked.
Divers who swam with the sharks said many of the pups were likely caught on hooks, which could lead to them having trouble feeding or even dying.
Scalloped hammerhead shark
The scalloped hammerhead can be distinguished by its large flattened ‘hammer-like’ head, with widely spaced eyes and prominent central scallop-like notch at the front of the head.
It has a tapered shape, with light brown, bronze or olive colors on the dorsal surfaces, fading to white on the underside.
A scalloped hammerhead (pictured) can be distinguished by its large flattened ‘hammer-like’ head
The underside of the pectoral fins has a dark color.
They are categorized as endangered under the Australian Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, but this does not prevent commercial fishing vessels from catching them.
Commercial and recreational fishing and shark netting are the main threats to the scalloped hammerhead.
They have been victims of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in Northern Australia for the past decade.
Their teeth are usually smooth-edged.
They do not actively search for human prey, but are very defensive and will attack when provoked.