SYDNEY – Journalists have a lot to be nervous about lately: layoffs, furloughs, newspaper closures. But reporters at an Australian paper may have received the scariest threat of the day when a live shark was left on their doorstep. Police said the two-foot creature was spotted early Wednesday by a man who was leaving a McDonald's restaurant next door to the offices of The Standard in the small Victoria state town of Warrnambool.
When police arrived, the animal — believed to be a relatively harmless Port Jackson shark — was still breathing, Warrnambool police Sgt. Tom Revell said Thursday.
So officers borrowed a bucket of water from McDonald's, placed the shark inside it and drove to a nearby pier, where they released the creature back into the ocean.
But why would someone dump a shark outside the newspaper?
"We've got no idea why," Revell said.
Nor does the newspaper's chief of staff, Glen Bernoth, who learned of the bizarre incident in a middle-of-the-night phone call from a friend who'd heard about it on his police scanner.
"Naturally, I assumed it was like some sort of prank or something, but I'd been asleep for a couple hours," Bernoth said with a laugh Thursday.
There are a couple of theories on the motive: Some readers were angered by a photograph the newspaper recently ran on its front page featuring a man who caught a large reef shark. Those upset by the photo didn't believe the creature should have been caught.
Another possibility, Bernoth says, is that the offering is somehow related to the local football club — named the Sharks.
"But that's just a stab in the dark," he said. "At the moment, we're sitting tight desperately hoping something will be revealed."