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Staying safe

Common sense tips here.
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Shark hazard mitigation strategies.
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Staying Safe

Even though shark encounters are rare, here are some common sense tips to help reduce the risk of one happening.  

Shark smart
29 September 2016

Shark Sightings, Detections & Responses

Since 2008, the Western Australian Government has invested in a broad range of shark hazard mitigation strategies, and continues to commit to initiatives such as helicopter and beach patrols, science, education and awareness, emerging technologies, and beach enclosures.

29 September 2016

Beach Safety & Protection Initiatives

The Western Australian Government and its partners have implemented a variety of beach safety initiatives to provide protection from the risk of shark interactions.

03 May 2017

Shark Deterrent Rebate

The Western Australian Government is offering a rebate of $200 to Western Australian residents that purchase an approved personal shark deterrent device.

The trial subsidy, which began on 26 May 2017, was originally for 1,000 devices, but given the popularity of the program, funding was doubled on 26 November 2017 to allow for an additional 1,000 rebates.

When the trial was first launched, the Shark Shield FREEDOM 7TM was the only approved personal shark deterrent device available as part of the subsidy. As of Friday 25 May 2018, the Government has added the Ocean Guardian FREEDOM+ Surf (Bundle) to the list of approved devices including providing an additional $200,000 for a further 1,000 rebates.

19 July 2018

Beach Emergency Numbers

The Beach Emergency Numbers (BEN) system – named in honour of fatal shark bite victim Ben Gerring – is a coding system that aims to improve emergency response times by installing signs with unique codes at public beach access points. 

These signs provide specific location information, vital when emergency services are deployed in the event of a shark sighting, attack or other beach emergencies. 

29 September 2016

Shark Incidents & Serious Threat

Government agencies and local land managers are working together to make our beaches safer. Together we have developed strong operational responses for when a shark is considered to be posing a serious threat to public safety.

An infographic detailing some facts about sharks, and dispelling some popular myths

Frequently asked questions

  1. How do I find out when there has been a reported shark sighting?

    Keep informed of the latest reported sighting and tagged shark detection information on the shark activity map or follow the live twitter feed from Surf Life Saving WA.

    You can also download the Beachsafe app to your mobile device to receive up to date information for all 3,494 WA beaches including patrol info (where applicable), hazards, warnings, weather information, shark sightings, rescue stats, beach information and more.

    Listen to authorities at your beach on arrival. WA Water Police, Surf Lifesavers or Local Government Rangers may direct you if your beach is closed.

    Play your part by reporting shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600.

  2. Is it safe to go swimming?

    The Western Australian Government has implemented a number of initiatives to help keep people safe when at the beach. 

    This includes:

    • A world-first personal shark deterrent rebate.
    • The Shark Monitoring Network - a network of 27 satellite-linked acoustic receivers located from Esperance to Perth providing real time detections of tagged sharks that are mapped on the SharkSmart Activity Map, posted to Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) Twitter feed and sent via text to life guards and beach managers. 
    • Funding for SLSWA to carry out patrols along our coast. 
    • Funding for Beach Emergency Numbers (BEN) signs to help emergency services get to the scene of an incident faster. 

    It is crucial that beachgoers take personal responsibility by finding out the latest information about the beach they plan to visit and obeying any directions from authorities when they are at the beach. 

    Before heading to the beach check the Shark Activity map to see the latest reported sightings and tagged shark detections at your local beach.

     

  3. What is a drum line?

    A drum line is a fishing apparatus that consists of a baited hook suspended from buoys, anchored to the ocean floor.

    Baited drum lines were deployed about 1km offshore of a number of popular Perth metropolitan and South West beaches between January and April 2014.  Not one white shark was caught. The program did not continue beyond the trial. 

  4. Is the number of sharks increasing?

    Increased media attention, surveillance and more people using the water have contributed to the impression that shark numbers have risen.

    Researchers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development try to estimate shark numbers based on fishing data.

    In addition to this, researchers have completed a review of white shark population numbers in Western Australia. The study attempted to reconstruct the levels of annual catch of white sharks since 1938, and to combine this data with life-history information to develop a series of population trajectories. These scenarios varied markedly and the report has identified the need for further investigation to reduce the level of uncertainty and narrowing the range of possible scenarios.

    CSIRO released a research report in February 2018 which found that there was no evidence of an increase in the southern-western white shark population.

    Read more: White Shark Fact Sheet, February 2018

     

     

     

  5. Are all sharks dangerous?

    Most of the 100 or more shark species in WA are capable of injuring humans, however an overwhelming majority of them are not aggressive under most circumstances. White, bull and tiger sharks are considered the most significant threat.

  6. Are sharks coming closer to shore because their normal food is scarce?

    Larger sharks tend to be very mobile and can travel large distances in search of prey. As there are no obstacles to them coming close to shore, there is always a small chance that people may encounter sharks. 

    The Shark Monitoring Network (SMN) was implemented to collect information about white shark movements off our coast. The entire project was funded by the Western Australian Government, and including the pilot phase extended over seven years, at a cost $3 million dollars.

    The results, released in April 2016, show that white sharks can exhibit rapid, extensive movements around the Western Australian coast with some seasonality in their abundance off the metropolitan coast.  As their movements are mostly uncoordinated, this limits general predictions of when human encounters with this species could be likely. 

    For further information view Fisheries Research Report No. 273, 2016.  

    Helpful Q&A’s on the report summarise some of the key findings.  

  7. Do ‘rogue’ sharks exist?

    A 'rogue' shark is an unsubstantiated theory.

    The ‘rogue’ shark theory is frequently discussed, particularly in the media, as a result of movies like Jaws and similar stories.

  8. Why have there been so many fatal attacks in recent times?

    There are certainly lots of theories, but it’s impossible to say for sure what caused this series of tragic events.

    A correlation study was conducted in 2012 to look at potential risk factors with white shark attacks in WA waters. The report explores possible links between shark sightings, interactions or attacks and locations, weather conditions, water temperatures and the activity of other marine mammals that might attract sharks. This report helped shape our shark SMART safety tips.

    The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development monitors white shark activity through the Shark Monitoring Network. Satellite-linked receivers located around the Perth metropolitan area, Geographe Bay, Smith Beach (Yallingup), Albany and Esperance provide ‘real time’ information on tagged shark detections to response agencies and the public, so people can make an informed decision about their water use. 

    Members of the public are also encouraged to report shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600.

     

     

  9. Is shark cage tourism allowed in WA?

    No, there is a State ban on shark tourism ventures which involve the use of a safety cage for protecting swimmers or divers from sharks. Tour operators are also not permitted to use blood, berley or other equipment for the purpose of attracting sharks. 

  10. Are there any beach enclosures in Western Australia?

    Beach enclosures are designed to prevent sharks moving into enclosed swimming areas.

    The Western Australian Government has funded five enclosures. These include Old Dunsborough and the Busselton foreshore in the South-West, Middleton Beach in Albany, Sorrento Beach and Quinns Beach, north of Perth.

    In May 2017, the City of Mandurah was offered $200,000 towards installing a beach enclosure at Falcon Beach. 

    The City of Cockburn has funded its own enclosure at Coogee Beach near Fremantle. 

  11. Do commercially available devices repel sharks?

    The Western Australian Government funded $1.9 million worth of research into personal deterrents like shark shields and visual deterrents as well as large scale deterrents like barriers and detection technology, through science research grants.

    Laboratory and field trials on existing electrical shark deterrents and potential novel shark deterrents such as loud underwater sounds, bright flashing lights and bubbles were tested in the laboratory and in the ocean in Western Australia and South Africa on a wide range of shark species, including white sharks.

    The research found that the Shark Shield FREEDOM 7TM had a significant effect in deterring a range of shark species, including tiger and white sharks. It is currently considered to be the most effective personal shark deterrent device available. 

    summary of research findings were released in June 2015, and in 2016 the University of Western Australian published its report on the Shark Shield FREEDOM 7TM

    The Western Australian Government is now offering a Shark Deterrent Rebate of $200 to 1,000 Western Australian residents that purchase an approved personal shark deterrent device.

     

  12. What can the Department do if there is a threat to public safety?

    The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has protocols and procedures to prepare for, and respond to, serious threat incidents. This includes a network of regionally placed assets which can assist in monitoring an area after a shark bite incident.

    The Deputy Director General, Sustainability and Biosecurity of the Department may issue an order for the capture of a shark in exceptional circumstances including where a shark remains in a localized area and all attempts to relocate or remove the shark have been unsuccessful, and the presence of the shark remains a genuine threat.

    The same shark being detected in the same location on more than one occasion would, of itself, not necessarily constitute exceptional circumstances when other measures are available to make an area safe. The remoteness or otherwise of an incident would also be a relevant consideration.

    Additional measures, as listed below, will remain available to ensure public safety: 

    • Deployment of a Fisheries vessel to the area (if available)
    • Beach closures and ordering people from the water by the relevant land manager (e.g. local government, Parks and Wildlife or Surf Life Saving WA)
    • Helicopter, if available, would conduct patrols to assist in beach closures and advise on shark sightings
    • Possible beach patrols by Fisheries Officers or Rangers
    • Deployment of a drone, if available, to assist in making a final evaluation before a beach is re-opened
    • Media alert issued with safety information and regular media updates
    • Constant liaison with Water Police and other relevant authorities
  13. What information should I provide if I see a shark?

    You should report shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600.

    Report all shark sightings as soon as possible to ensure effective response procedures. Include:

    • Date and time.
    • Location: be specific; provide the beach or landmark name, closest suburb or town and distance from shore.
    • Shark species (if known) or distinguishing features.
    • Estimated size (use a vessel or other visual marker for size comparison).
    • Your contact details for follow-up, if needed.