It may not be as glamorous as the Loch Ness monster but South Lismore locals reckon they have their own mysterious ‘monster’ living in the Duck Pond.
A number of witnesses have reported seeing what they believe to be a juvenile bull shark swimming about in the relatively shallow pond at the western end of the reserve.
The Duck Pond is not connected to nearby Leycester Creek, so if the reports prove accurate, the shark would either have found itself stuck in the pond following the flood last year, or been placed there by a cheeky fisher person.
Noreen Colley, owner of the Duck Pond cafe in Union Street, said she was beside the pond last week when she noticed a wake in the water.
A short time later there was a commotion and a number of ibis took off, however Noreen maintains there was one less ibis than before.
‘I saw what appeared to be a fin gliding through the water and the shark looked to be about four foot long,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘We watched it for quite some time.’
The sighting was confirmed by her grandson Riley.
During a subsequent search in the area, this reporter and others also spotted ‘something’ making a wake as it moved about the shallow waters.
Overgrown vegetation alongside the pond made a closer inspection impractical however the three intrepid ‘shark hunters’ were sure they spotted what appeared to be the wake of a ‘something’ as it moved about in the shallow water.
South Lismore Duck Pond Landcare secretary Mark Bailey said National Parks and Wildlife Service would be notified to find the best course of action if indeed it was a bull shark.
‘The Duck Pond reserve is a popular area for people to visit and while the pond is not somewhere people swim, it’s not unusual for people’s dogs to go for a paddle,’ he said.
‘The last thing we want is for someone’s pooch to get munched by a bull shark’.
Bull sharks, of course, are quite common in the Wilson River and Leycester Creek, which runs alongside the Duck Pond reserve.
Females enter the river system to give birth, and can easily adapt to the brackish water.
Last week a juvenile bull shark was caught near the Lismore Rowing Club, and after a quick photograph, was released back into the river.
Mature-sized bull sharks have also been spotted from the bridge connecting the Lismore CBD to North and South Lismore.
And while there are a handful of freshwater shark species, the bull shark is unique in that it can survive in both salt and freshwater because of a process known as Osmoregulation.
Osmoregulation is the ability of an organism to maintain a constant concentration of water in its body even when its outside environment would normally cause it to lose or gain water. Freshwater and saltwater fish both osmoregulate.
Bull sharks can adapt their osmoregulatory processes to survive in a broad range of water salinities, from the salt water of the ocean to the fresh water of a lake.