July 11, 2008-IT'S the talk of district, the Central Coast's Loch Ness monster, but residents and experts are sceptical that a full-grown seven-metre great white shark might be lurking in Tuggerah Lake.
A commercial fisherman on Wednesday reported netting the monster while casting off Canton Beach, near Toukley, about 100 kilometres north of Sydney.
"He claimed that he actually caught the shark in his net and the shark came up and started thrashing about, and hit his boat," said Chief Inspector Tim Winmill.
A police spokesman yesterday said there had been no other sightings.
John West, a shark expert at Taronga Zoo, said: "I think it's a hoax. Great whites don't go into estuarine or lake systems.
"In all my knowledge on shark biology and behaviour, that's unlikely. It wouldn't even fit in that lake. I don't know how deep the entrance is but you'd need several metres for a shark that big to get into it. A large shark like that would stick out … "
The president of Soldiers Beach Surf Life Saving Club, Mick Crowe, was also sceptical.
"The average depth of the lake is six or seven metres," he said. "There's no chance a shark that big could get into the entrance. You could just about walk across the [shallow] entrance channel."
Chief Inspector Winmill said a baby great white shark in the lake was reported a few years ago.
Mr West said it was unlikely but possible that a baby great white might have sneaked in through the entrance. "But if it got into there, it would be trying to find its way out. They don't tolerate the drops in salinity."
He said any shark in the lake was more likely to be a bull shark. They naturally moved up into fresh water. "But they only grow up to three metres long."
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