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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 more than $30 million in a broad range of shark hazard mitigation strategies.

Operational measures work in tandem with ongoing research, monitoring and beach surveillance to improve our understanding of sharks and keep you safer in the water.

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.

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 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 numbers of shark fatalities, with ten fatalities since 2010.


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

    The Department of Fisheries has completed a review of white shark population numbers. 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.   

  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. 

    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.  

  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.

    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 Fisheries is also actively monitoring white shark movements around the Perth metropolitan area, Geographe Bay, Smiths Beach (Yallingup) and Albany, through the Shark Monitoring Network (SMN) project which has significantly improved the level of understanding of the movements of white sharks. The satellite-linked receivers which are part of the SMN also 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. 


  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?

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

    The Western Australian Government has funded a number of these including at Old Dunsborough and the Busselton foreshore in the south-west and Middleton Beach in Albany. 

    The City of Joondalup and City of Wanneroo are working towards installing beach enclosures at Sorrento Beach and Quinns Beach (respectively). 

    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 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.

    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. Preliminary analysis of the field data indicated that:

    • Electrical deterrents do not attract sharks.

    • The Shark Shield Freedom 7TM 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.

    In 2016 the University of Western Australia published its findings on the Shark Shield Freedom 7TM. The report can be viewed at the Public Library of Science (PLOS).

  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.