Not your ordinary water hazard
Florida and its gators have nothing on Australia and a school of sharks that lived in an irrigation pond at a Brisbane-area golf club for almost 17 years, then mysteriously disappeared.
The group of sharks – which can also be called a shiver, herd, frenzy or gam of sharks – some of them as big as 11 feet long, lived in the 15-acre fresh-water pond of Carbrook Golf Club, starting sometime in the 1990s.
They had been swept into the pond during a massive flooding event after swimming up the nearby Logan or Albert rivers, which drain into the Pacific Ocean on Australia’s east coast about six miles east of the golf club.
Sharks became members of the club
“Sometime between 1991 and 1996, the sharks found their way into the pond, which was the remains of a sand mining operation. Three floods broke through the banks of the rivers during that time and rushed inland, carrying the sharks with them. The sharks were left stranded after the floodwaters subsided,” wrote Rich Co of Nature World News.
Unlike other sharks, bull sharks, the species involved, are eurysaline, which means they can live in both salt and fresh water. In August of this year, naturalist and shark researcher Peter Gausmann published a paper about the Carbrook Golf Club’s sharks in an academic journal, “Marine and Fishery Sciences.” He noted the longevity of the sharks’ survival was scientifically important.
“From 1996 to 2013, six bull sharks were landlocked in a golf course lake near Brisbane. Carried in by flooding of the nearby Logan and Albert rivers the flooding trapped sharks,” Gausmann wrote in his paper.
“When floodwaters receded, these sharks remained in the lake, which is normally isolated from the riverʼs main channel,” he wrote.
“The case reported here provides information on the occurrence of bull sharks for 17 years, which represents the longest uninterrupted duration in a low salinity environment that ever has been recorded in this species. Bull sharks arrived first in the lake as juveniles but through time, they have reached maturity,” Gausmann wrote.
The pond where he sharks lived comes into play on the 18th hole of the 6,146-yard, par 71 golf course.
“The ocean predators lived in the lake, fielding stray golf balls and surviving off of fish (and, occasionally, treats from club employees) for 17 years — and became the club’s unofficial mascot,” wrote Bailey Richards of People.com, citing a report in the New York Times.
Scott Wagstaff, the club’s general manager, told the Times that people were quite delighted by the unusual animal presence. “Every single member here just loves the sharks,” he told the newspaper.
Wagstaff added that during his time as manager, he has seen the bull sharks “jump completely out of the water and spin as they land,” the Times reported.
Over the years, one of the club’s landlocked fish was illegally fished, and others were carried out of the pond the same way they arrived — by subsequent flooding that allowed the sharks to escape back to the sea.
No Alabama shark sightings
To date, there have been no shark sightings in freshwater bodies in Alabama. As for alligators found at golf courses in Florida and other states in the South, Alabamians might be surprised to learn that the Yellowhammer state does have gators.
“In the southern half of Alabama, there is an estimated population of about 70,000 alligators. They live along rivers such as the Conecuh/Escambia and Perdido and also in lakes such as Lake Eufala, Lake Forest, or Big Creek Lake.” the website AZ Animals reports.
According to the site, “They can be found across any wetland areas or marshes that are common in coastal regions and some have been reported in small numbers as far north as Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, south of Decatur. They are likely descendants of a federal attempt to expand their range after they were declared an endangered species in 1979.
Dan Vukelich is the online editor of Alabama Golf News. He lives in Albuquerque, N.M. Internet news reports were used in this post
Featured image courtesy of Deposit Photos