The rarity of shark attacks does not take away from the serious nature of a fatal attack when it does occur. Nor does the seemingly random nature of shark attacks help to allay fears about being bitten. The wide range of shark behaviours, injuries to victims, and circumstances involved with shark attacks, suggest that there is no easy single explanation for why sharks very occasionally bite people.

While these kinds of attacks are rare, there are a few common sense tips to reduce the risk of encountering sharks:

  • Follow and ALWAYS check the SLSWA TwitterSharkSmart website or news websites for alerts & activity. (e.g. whale carcass, sightings) prior to entering the water.
  • Swim between the flags at patrolled beaches
  • Swim close to shore
  • Avoid aquatic activity either side of dusk and dawn
  • Be sure to swim, dive or surf with other people
  • Avoid areas where there are large schools of fish, dolphins, seals or sea lions and close to bird rookeries
  • Avoid areas where animal, human or fish waste enters the water
  • Avoid deep channels or areas with deep drop-offs nearby
  • Do not remain in the water with bleeding wounds
  • Look carefully before jumping into the water from a boat or jetty
  • If spearing fish, don’t carry dead or bleeding fish attached to you and remove all speared fish from the water as quickly as possible
  • If schooling fish or other wildlife start to behave erratically or congregate in large numbers, leave the water
  • If you see a shark, leave the water as quickly and calmly as possible – avoid excessive splashing or noise

What to do if you spot a shark

Shark sightings should be reported to the Water Police on 08 9442 8600. This number is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Surf Life Saving WA provides frequent updates on its helicopter beach patrols and shark sightings via twitter.com/slswa

Department of Fisheries officers and the WA Police, with support from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Rottnest Island Authority, coastal Local Government Authorities (ranger services) and the frontline of beach safety – Surf Life Saving WA – all play their part to keep swimmers safe.

Surf lifesavers are watching from the beaches, on the water and in the air, and public officers are ready to respond to sightings and incidents.

In the event of a shark sighting, the following precautions are implemented;

  • If the shark is larger than three metres and within one kilometre of the shore – close the beach and water 1km either side of the shark location for one hour (two hours if at dawn; for the remainder of the evening if at dusk).
  • If the shark is 2 – 3 metres in length and/or schooling sharks and within 500 metres of the shore – close the beach and water 1km either side of the shark location for one hour (two hours if at dawn; for the remainder of the evening if at dusk).
  • If the shark is less than two metres in length – advise the public but maintain normal operations.

For more information visit Department of Fisheries.

In the event that our Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter should spot a shark, the following actions will occur/should be observed.

  1. Helicopter will hover and sound siren to warn public out of the water if a shark is in close proximity.
  2. Helicopter will leave the site and continue patrolling after determining water users are safe on the land.
  3. Public to stay out of the water for 60 minutes from siren sounding.
  4. Public to check mobile devices for information updates:
    1. @SLSWA Twitter
    2. www.sharksmart.com.au
    3. www.beachsafe.org.au or the Beachsafe app.
  5. Subject to other activity, the Helicopter will return to the site within 60 minutes to complete a further area sweep and assess hazard level.
  6. If no further siren sounds from the helicopter public can return to the water and continue aquatic activities.