A PROGRAM to help communities recover from the impact of shark attacks has been launched in Forster and will now roll out across the state.
Dispelling some of the myths associated with shark habits formed part of the presentation at Forster Surf Life Saving Club on June 3.
The launch followed the tragic death of a surfer at Nine Mile Beach, Tuncurry in May.
Hosted by Surf Life Saving NSW, the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) and the Department of Primary Industries, the three-hour presentation gave residents a chance to learn more about shark behaviour, beach safety and how to seek mental health support.
RAMHP mental health program co-ordinator, Matthew Milne said the program aims to help the community recover following a shark incident, to help them process the trauma and access educational information.
"A lot of misinformation can be spread in the community," Mr Milne said.
"But, a project such as this can provide factual and scientific information about shark bites and attacks, how lifesavers keep our beaches safe and mental health information.
"After an event such as this trauma can set into the community.
"When our happy place (the beach) gets taken away we have people who can get quite unwell.
"We cannot help people get back into the water, but we can bring to their attention how they can access support."
Department of Primary Industries shark programs leader and scientist, Dr Marcel Green was keen to dismiss the belief target sharks, white, tiger and bull, were territorial.
"They are not residential animals," he said.
"We cannot help people get back into the water, but we can bring to their attention how they can access support.- Matthew Milne
He said the white shark was known to travel more than 50,000 kilometres (over three years) up and down the east coast, over to New Zealand and New Caledonia.
"White sharks are high migrating animals; white sharks are a cool water animal which moves up and down the coastline, but tigers and bulls are warm water animals," he explained.
"Any one of these three target sharks can be on your beach at any time of the year."
Dr Green also rejected the theory Hawks Nest, for many years labelled sharks nest, and Forster were breeding areas for both grey nurse and white sharks, but did say it was a nursery for the animals.
"This is not where they are born, but where they go to hang out," he said.
Scientists believe white sharks are born south of Victoria before moving north, and that white sharks along the west and east coast were genetically different.
SLS Lower North Coast president, Brian Wilcox said following such an incident it was hard for the community to rationalise what had happened unless they had the facts.
"This was an opportunity for people to listen to the facts and voice their concerns and walk away with some sense it is a bit better than it is.
"There is so much information out there that is not true."
About 50 people attended the event, along with members of the 'exclusive' Bite Club.
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