Swimmer Shark activity map
Staying safe

Common sense tips here.
Read more about staying safe

FAQs

Frequently asked questions here.
Read more about separating the fact from fiction

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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
06 November 2013

Action Plan

Seven fatal shark attacks in the three years to the end of 2013 in Western Australia cast a long shadow over our world famous beaches and left some of us feeling anxious about venturing into the water.

23 January 2014

Shark sightings, emergencies and responses

Government agencies, businesses and individuals are all part of the important shark detection, monitoring and response network.

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 devise 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?

    There has been an increase in shark incidents in WA, particularly in the last 20 years. Some of the serious incidents in the last two decades have involved surfing, body boarding, snorkelling or SCUBA diving further offshore and in deeper water than where most people swim at the beach, while others have occurred closer inshore.

    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. 

    Visit our map to see the latest information for shark activity 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.  The program did not continue beyond the trial. 

  4. Where were the selected beaches for drum line placement?

    Baited drum lines were deployed at Mullaloo, Trigg, Scarborough, Floreat, City, North Cottesloe, Cottesloe, Leighton and Port Beaches in the metropolitan area. In the South West during January to mid-February, drum lines were deployed at Old Dunsborough, Castle Rock, Meelup and Bunker Bay. Equipment was then transferred to between Yallingup and Lefthanders, with a greater emphasis on surfing locations until 30 April 2014.

    The program did not continue beyond the trial. 

  5. 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.

    Department of Fisheries’ researchers try to estimate shark numbers based on fishing data.

    What cannot be disputed is that there have been unprecedented number of shark fatalities in the last three years, to the end of 2013. 

  6. Is there an increase in the number of white sharks off the WA coast?

    The Government’s Shark Monitoring Network project is collecting specialised information about white shark (white pointers or great whites) movements off our coast to better understand some of the recent apparent fluctuations in white shark numbers in WA waters. The project’s goal is to collect enough data about these movements to better predict when, where and why there may be heightened risks of white shark encounters.

  7. 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.

  8. 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. A study is underway to assess the impact that fisheries’ management has potentially had on the population of white sharks. 

  9. Do ‘rogue’ sharks exist?

    A ‘rogue’ shark is one that returns to the same location and deliberately targets humans. Evidence would suggest it’s extremely unlikely that a rogue shark has been involved in any WA shark incidents.

    The ‘rogue’ shark theory is frequently discussed, particularly in the media. Although it maintains a place in popular belief (thanks to the Jaws movies and similar stories), it is simply an unsubstantiated theory.

  10. 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.

    Favourable ocean conditions may have attracted more white sharks than usual to south-western WA. Trends in our population growth, recreational activities, regional development and access to more remote and offshore waters could also have exacerbated the frequency of these incidents. 

    In addition to actively monitoring white sharks’ movements around south-western WA through the Shark Monitoring Network project, Department of Fisheries’ scientists are reviewing all available data to investigate whether there are predictable environmental conditions that lead to increased abundance of this species in our waters. 

  11. 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. 

  12. Are there any beach enclosures in Western Australia?

    The Western Australian Government funded a trial of a beach enclosure at Old Dunsborough between January and April 2014.

    The trial tested the suitability of beach enclosures in protecting swimmers from sharks. The enclosure extended about 100m from shore and ran parallel with the beach for approximately 300m.

    A review of the Old Dunsborough beach enclosure trial found that it was successful, providing a cost effective option for a protected swimming enclosure with no environmental impact. A second beach enclosure has been funded, and will be deployed at the Busselton foreshore in time for the 2015/16 summer season.

    On 20 July 2015 the Premier announced additional funding for two further beach enclosures proposed to be deployed at Sorrento Beach in the City of Joondalup in the North metropolitan area and at Middleton Beach in the City of Albany in the Great Southern.

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

  13. Will the baited drum lines attract more sharks to where there are swimmers?

    Some of the known research shows the 'scent' from bait is detected a few hundred meters away, so any shark would need to be in the area already. These baits are 1km offshore and should draw sharks away from beaches.

  14. Do commercially available devices repel sharks?

    The State 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.

    In June 2015 the Premier; Minister for Science released preliminary results of three of the applied research projects following the completion of significant laboratory and field trials on existing electrical shark deterrents and potential novel shark deterrents such as loud underwater sounds, bright flashing lights and bubbles.

    The deterrents 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. This evidence will shortly be provided to science journals for verification and must be regarded as preliminary until subjected to peer review. However, preliminary analysis of the field trial data indicated that:

    • Electrical deterrents do not attract sharks.

    • The Shark ShieldTM had a significant effect in deterring a range of shark species, including tiger sharks and white sharks, though further testing is required to be statistically confident in the species-specific effects.

    • The electric anklet device did not have a significant effect in deterring any shark species tested, including tiger sharks and white sharks.
  15. Does the Department of Fisheries hunt sharks that have attacked humans?

    Yes, a shark that has attacked someone or is deemed a threat can be captured and killed.

  16. 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.