At the close of the school holidays, as Surf Life Saving WA’s south west based Westpac Helicopter moved from daily to weekend patrols yesterday afternoon, the service reported a more than 65% increase in swimmers and surfers being cleared from the water due to the presence of sharks.
Over the two week school holiday period, the state government funded service, which operates between September and April each year, cleared more than 95 surfers and swimmers from south west beaches, as well as warning more than 300 beachgoers not to enter the water due to the presence of sharks.
These clearances and warnings were issued at a range of locations including highly popular Meelup and Bunker Bay beaches including The Farm surf break, where a young surfer was attacked by a shark in July this year.
Surf Life Saving WA General Manager, Lifesaving Chris Peck said this activity demonstrates the value of the service for the beach going public, and the role it continues to play in helping keep beachgoers safe.
“Without a doubt, through the number of beachgoer warnings issued and those cleared from the water, we know that that presence of our Westpac Helicopter significantly decreases the likelihood of an interaction with a shark,” said Mr Peck.
“These figures for the south west are up on this period last year and, with the current border closures in place, we expect to see even more West Australians heading south and spending time on the coast.
“What we are asking people to do is stay vigilant and to heed the advice issued by any of the services, including the Westpac Helicopter and, wherever possible, choose to swim at a patrolled location where there are lifesavers & lifeguards on duty.”
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