LOCAL beaches crowded with holiday makers were evacuated due to shark sightings on New Year’s Day.
Shortly after 3pm, five large sharks were seen at Vincentia and Hyams Beach at Jervis Bay during a routine pass of the area by the Bendigo Bank Aerial Patrol.
The sharks were between 20 metres and 50 metres from shore and the largest of these was estimated at between four and five metres in length.
The patrol crew sounded the aircraft siren to evacuate up to 70 people from the water and spent almost 40 minutes over the beach maintaining watch of the sharks’ movements while police managed the situation on the ground.
The patrol’s general manager Harry Mitchell said earlier in the afternoon two large hammerhead sharks and a third shark were seen near the entrance to Lake Conjola.
He said the sharks were only 50 metres from shore but there were no swimmers in the area.
Mr Mitchell said his specialist crews were on heightened alert for increased shark activity as water temperatures increase and fish shoals become more abundant along the coast.
“It’s all about helping to maximise public safety by mitigating risk using all of the resources available,” he said.
He said these resources included beach meshing at four Illawarra beaches and the aerial patrol which was beach goers’ “eye in the sky”.