My Beach

With a 16% increase in shark sightings and a resulting 20% increase in beach closures, Surf Life Saving WA’s (SLSWA) Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service (WLRHS) continues to demonstrate the vital role it plays in protecting beach goers and those recreating up and down Western Australia’s extensive coastline.

The North Fremantle based metro helicopter performed its final patrols of the season yesterday, while the Busselton based south west heli flew its final patrol on Monday following a busy weekend which saw the service instrumental in saving the life of a fisherman swept off rocks near Contos Beach in Margaret River.

Over the 2019/20 season, which runs September through April, the service performed 1,042 hours of patrol covering more than 100,000km’s over some of WA’s most popular beaches, which this year included an extended south west flight path beyond Margaret River to Hamelin Bay.

SLSWA’s General Manager Lifesaving Chris Peck said that the service continued to demonstrate its importance as not only a key element in the state government’s shark mitigation strategy, but in its role assisting the WA Police and other emergency service agencies in search and rescue activity.

“The services ability to detect, confirm & initiate responses, through direct warning to beach users, is unique.”

“The helicopter really is able to deliver a service that our other resources cannot,” said Mr Peck.

“They are able to cover large areas in a relatively short period of time. This ability is particularly important given the vastness of our coastline and the limitations in resources meaning not all beaches, including many popular ones in the south west, can be attended by SLSWA Lifesavers, local government or parks rangers.”

The south west based service saw a 100% increase in search and rescue activity over the previous season, and a 31% increase in the number of beach closures due to shark sightings, while the metro based service saw an 11% increase in shark sightings, but no change in the number of beach closures.

The state government funded WLRHS patrols will recommence in September 2020.


Metro Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter (September 1 2019 – 30 April 2020): 

Based out of Rous Head, North Fremantle, the metro service flies between Mandurah in the south, Yanchep to the north, and Rottnest Island to the east.

  • Flight Hours: 520 (17% increase)
  • Shark Sightings: 144 (11% increase)
  • Search & Rescue Missions: 3 (75% decrease)
  • Beach Closures: 15 (no change)

South West Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter (September 1 2019 – 27 April 2020)

Based out of the Busselton Margaret River Airport, the south west service flies between Bunbury in the north and Hamelin Bay in the south.             

  • Flight Hours: 522 (17% increase)
  • Shark Sightings: 357 (18% increase)
  • Search & Rescue Missions: 8 (100% increase)
  • Beach Closures: 34 (31% increase)

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Megan Jones, Marketing & Communications Officer


P: 0406 006 495

SLSWA Media Phone – media are reminded of the SLSWA Media Phone that is manned at the SurfCom radio operations base. Please call this number with media enquiries, particularly over weekends and Public Holidays: 0448 025 339