White shark closes beaches at Australian city for 6 days

SYDNEY (AP) -- Beaches at the Australian city of Newcastle were closed for a sixth day on Thursday because of a 5-meter (16-foot) great white shark that is lurking in coastal waters.

The shark was first spotted on Saturday off Merewether Beach and was last seen off Nobbys Beach on Wednesday afternoon, Newcastle City Council Aquatic Services Coordinator Peter Withers said.

Beaches are typically closed at the city of 315,000 people 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Sydney four or five times a summer due to shark sightings, he said. Sharks are usually herded away by lifeguards on Jet Skis and are never seen again.

Withers said he had never encountered such a large shark or one that had lingered in the area for so long during his 37 years working for the council.

The public was generally cooperating with the beach closures, although some surfers were willing to take the risk, he said.

Council spokeswoman Dana Fischetti said long-term employees of the council could not recall a shark closing city beaches for so long.

Beaches are reopened 24 hours after the last shark sighting. While the council does not keep records of the last longest period of beach closures, they are usually only closed for a day or two, she said.

Patrols began to search for the shark again from Thursday morning, Withers said.

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