In Brief

Six sharks killed after Great Barrier Reef attacks

Conservationists speak out against indiscriminate culling by Australian authorities

Marine scientists have criticised the decision to kill six sharks following attacks on two swimmers at a popular tourist spot in the Great Barrier Reef.

Melbourne resident Hannah Papps, 12, and 46-year-old Justine Barwick, from Tasmania, were mauled in separate incidents a day apart last week at the Whitsunday Islands, off the Queensland coast, the Daily Mail  reports. Both “remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital”, Sky News adds.

Queensland state authorities used drum lines, which use baited hooks, to catch the sharks - five tiger sharks measuring up to 3.7 metres (12 feet) long and one smaller black tip shark. It is not known whether any of the creatures were involved in last week’s attacks. 

Fisheries Queensland said the sharks had been “humanely euthanised” and “taken out to sea for disposal”. Local media claimed they were shot, according to the Mail. 

“The message is these waters are not safe for swimming,”  a fisheries spokeswoman said.

The drum lines will remain in place over the next week on order to reduce the risk to swimmers. However, many conservationists and marine scientists say the lines pose a risk to other marine wildlife.

Experts have also warned that killing sharks could disrupt the ecology of the ocean.

According to Australian broadcaster ABC, the two recent attacks were the first in eight years.

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