The West

Surfer mindset changing after attacks
Surfer mindset changing after attacks

If you asked local surfer Dave Hopkins about his opinion on sharks a year ago, he would have given a very different answer to the one he has today.

Speaking to the Times on the anniversary of the Bunker Bay fatal shark attack, Hopkins said he had been a big shark supporter in the past and “would’ve never thought about culling”.

“This is now becoming ridiculous, it is not just one attack a year,” he said.

“We need to find out more information and need to start considering culling the big ones.”

Hopkins said there had been many occasions when surfers had got in the water without realising a shark had been sighted earlier in the day.

Yallingup Boardriders president Todd Taylor said the past year had only served to reinforce his opinion that the big sharks needed to be culled.

“I know people are staying out of he water and giving up surfing,” he said.

“I just don’t feel safe in the water anymore, and I’ve been surfing for 30 years.

“We are hearing about sightings almost once a week and it’s not just hysteria, but we don’t know why there are so many sightings.”

Taylor said the surfing community was starting to take their safety into their own hands, with a sign erected at Injidup Beach car park to let people know about any sightings.

He said there had been four sightings in the past two weeks.

Barry Young, who has been living in Yallingup for about 25 years, does not surf in the region in the winter months anymore.

“It used to be a case of it (a shark attack) won’t happen to you,” he said.

“But now people are thinking it’s too much of a risk to get in.”

Young believed the rise in white shark numbers could be directly attributed to the increase in the seal population, which were their staple food source.

Former professional surfer Mitch Thorson said he was worried about the impact on the next generation of surfers.

“The number of kids who are stopping or slowing down is really noticeable,” he said.

“I’ve got two kids . . . and lately they’ve been playing a lot more footy, they’ve maybe surfed twice in the last six to eights weeks.”

Sixteen-year-old Sasha Hopkins has been surfing for most of his life.

“The sharks have always been there . . . but now I think I’m a little more scared,” he said.

“I’ve been more aware of the conditions before going out, like if there’s no one out or the water is murky I probably won’t go out.”

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