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Sea Sense

Let’s bring it to the beach.
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Staying Safe

The Western Australian Government is committed to keeping the community as safe as possible when using our oceans. There is no one simple solution, shark encounters are rare and the following shark safety initiatives, operational responses and shark safety tips, allow the community to keep informed and help reduce the risk of a shark encounter.  

 

20 September 2018

Sea Sense - Let's bring it to the beach

While shark encounters in WA are rare, every West Australian can bring something to the beach, to help stay safe. It’s our sea sense.

Here are some common sense tips to help reduce your risk of a shark encounter.

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. 

20 September 2018

Beach Enclosures

A beach enclosure is a protected swimming area featuring a physical barrier to reduce the risk of a shark encounter. The barrier aims to prevent sharks from entering an enclosed area and covers the full water column (anchored to the seabed and connected to floats at the surface)

29 September 2016

Shark Sightings, Detections & Responses

The Western Australian Government has developed a world first, integrated shark notification and response system which is a partnership between the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), Water Police and Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA).

This system provides near ‘real-time’ information on shark sightings and detections to response agencies and the public, to assist people in making informed decisions about their water use. 

29 September 2016

Beach and Aerial Surveillance

In 2017/18 the Western Australian Government provided Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) with nearly $3.7 million for the delivery of shark mitigation strategies, which includes funding for aerial patrols provided by SLSWA’s Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.

Surf lifesavers are watching from the beaches, on the water and in the air and public officers are ready to respond to sightings. Swimming between the flags at patrolled beaches means that if a shark is sighted, the information will be communicated quickly to the front line responders and the beach can be closed by lifesavers.

20 September 2018

Whale Carcass Management

Effective whale carcass management requires the collaboration of relevant government departments and land managers. 

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) is responsible for the management of whales in Western Australia. As whale carcasses are a known shark attractant, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) also has a role in their management. 

29 September 2016

Shark Incidents

Government agencies and local land managers are working together to make our beaches safer. Together we have developed strong operational responses to shark incidents and we can all play a part to be prepared in the event of an emergency.

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 SMART drumline?

    'SMART' is an acronym for Shark-Management-Alert-in-Real-time. A SMART drumline is non-lethal and designed to send an alert when a shark has been captured on the line.

    The Western Australian Government has committed to conduct a scientific trial of non-lethal SMART drumlines. The trial is expected to run for at least 12 months in the Gracetown area. 

    For further information visit SMART drumline 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 movement and population fact sheet

     

     

     

  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. Is shark cage tourism allowed in Western Australia?

    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. Legislative changes under the Fisheries Resource Management Regulations (R.128OA) have been made to help reduce the risk of shark incidents by banning activities that may change the behaviour of sharks. A ban on using mammal and bird offal and blood for berley for the purposes of attracting sharks has also been put in place under the Fisheries Resource Management Regulations. 

  9. 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
  10. 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.
  11. Is there such a thing as ‘shark weather’?

    There is no proof that any time of the day, or weather conditions (like cloudy days) make it more likely you’ll see a shark.