UPDATE: 5.45PM Metropolitan and South West beaches will have increased aerial shark patrols this summer, including on 31 extra days in Perth, after WA’s unprecedented spike in fatal attacks.
The increased patrols come despite Surf Life Saving WA today admitting spotters in helicopters were hardly ever spying great white sharks – responsible for all five fatal attacks in the past 10 months.
Metropolitan patrols will start a month earlier in September this year, initially on weekends before increasing to seven days a week from October until the end of April for a total of 221 days.
Last financial year’s 190 patrol days included seven-day-a-week monitoring from October 24 until April 30.
Metropolitan patrols sweep from Dawesville to Yanchep and out to Rottnest for an average of three to four hours a day.
South West beaches from Bunbury to Margaret River were patrolled from November to the end of January last financial year.
This financial year they will be monitored on weekends from September and then every day from November 18 until school holidays end in February and again during Easter.
SLSWA community safety manager Chris Peck said of the 247 shark sightings off Perth and South West beaches last financial year, the vast majority were of tiger, bronze whaler and hammerhead sharks.
“The ones we’re worried about, the white shark, we don’t see them very often from the helicopter,” he said.
“White sharks tend to be very elusive. That may be the timeframe that we’re operating. Perhaps if we operated in the middle of winter we’d see them more.”
Department of Fisheries shark response unit spokesman Tony Cappeluti said authorities were trying to reduce shark attacks by making sighting public as soon as possible, including on Twitter and Facebook.
“Once upon a time when a report came in, we tried to confirm it,” he said. “What we don’t want to create is public hysteria (but) we have taken the decision to get the information out quickly.”
He said sightings should be referred to the Water Police on 9442 8600.
A 3-metre tiger shark was spotted twice this morning at Ledge Point.
The sighting comes just days after surfer Ben Linden was killed by a shark at Wedge Island, some 40km north of Lancelin.
Mr Linden was surfing with a friend about 100m offshore when he was attacked by what was described as a “massive” great white shark about 9am on Saturday.Fisheries shark monitoring data released today showed nine of 98 white sharks tagged in South Australia and WA have been detected off Perth beaches on 55 days between June 2009 and July 2012.
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