Six bull sharks inadvertently made their home on an Australian golf course. Then they vanished

For professional golfers, the water hazards on a golf course can make or break their performance. But at Carbrook Golf Club in Australia, the water hazards were much more than just a challenge for players – they were home to six resident bull sharks. From their unexpected arrival to their mysterious disappearance 17 years later, this is the story of golf’s most dangerous water hazard.

Carbrook Golf Club, located in Queensland and about 14 kilometers away from the Pacific Ocean, may seem like an unlikely place for sharks. However, bull sharks are known to thrive in a variety of environments. Despite being native to warm and tropical waters, bull sharks have unique organs that allow them to adapt to freshwater surroundings. This explains why they found their way into the Logan River and eventually made their way to Carbrook golf course, which is situated along the river.

The golf course, known for its subtropical climate and frequent flooding, had experienced severe floods in the past. During these flood events, the land bridge between the river and the sand-mine-turned-lake beside the 14th hole would become submerged, creating an opportunity for the bull sharks to enter the lake. As the floodwaters receded and the land bridge reappeared, the sharks were trapped inside the lake.

Rumors about the sharks started circulating around the golf course, particularly around the 14th green. People reported hearing splashes, seeing dark shapes moving beneath the surface, and even claiming to have witnessed a tall dorsal fin. The presence of the sharks became a local myth, similar to the Loch Ness monster or Bigfoot.

It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the existence of the sharks was confirmed. A picture of one of the sharks taken by a local newspaper went viral and caught the attention of people worldwide. The golf club fully embraced its unique attraction, incorporating a bull shark into its logo and naming its youth program the Junior Shark Academy. Feedings were even organized during tournaments and special events.

Despite their dangerous reputation, the sharks coexisted peacefully with the golfers. Only two safety measures were taken – signage around the lake to warn visitors and a ban on anyone diving for golf balls in the lake. The golf club understood the importance of prioritizing safety and didn’t want to put anyone at risk for the sake of retrieving lost balls.

The sharks also caught the attention of Dr. Peter Gausmann, a shark-loving scientist and researcher based in Germany. He published a study on the Carbrook sharks, highlighting their adaptability and extended residence in the lake. Dr. Gausmann calculated that the sharks had sufficient food supply in the lake and had grown to a healthy size.

Bull sharks had been known to survive for years in isolated bodies of water, but the Carbrook sharks surpassed all previous records. Their 17-year stay in low-salinity waters was unprecedented. Dr. Gausmann concluded that bull sharks have no limits to their residential time in freshwater environments and could potentially spend their entire lives in such habitats.

Unfortunately, the fate of the Carbrook sharks remains a mystery. Sightings decreased after the 2013 floods, leading to fears that the sharks may have returned to the river or died as a result of the storm. Only two sharks were confirmed dead – one found floating on the surface and another killed by illegal fishing. Dr. Gausmann believes that further illegal fishing is the most likely explanation for their disappearance.

Although the sharks are no longer present in the lake, their absence is deeply felt by the golf club and its members. Plans are already in place to fill in the lake and create a new course. Whether new sharks will appear in the future is uncertain, but the memories of the Carbrook sharks will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who encountered them.

In the end, the story of the Carbrook sharks is a testament to the adaptability and resilience of bull sharks. It also serves as a reminder that nature has a way of surprising us, even on a golf course.


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