Shark sightings up

Augusta Margaret River Times
Surf Lifesaving WA helicopter patrols saw an 18 per cent increase in shark activity across the Capes this season.
Camera IconSurf Lifesaving WA helicopter patrols saw an 18 per cent increase in shark activity across the Capes this season. Credit: re:, Supplied

Westpac Surf Lifesaving WA helicopter patrols have reported an 18 per cent increase in shark sightings as they wind down for the season.

The beach patrols, which cover Perth and the Capes, also triggered a 31 per cent increase in beach closures.

The Busselton-based South West patrol had a busy final weekend, which included the rescue of a fisherman swept off rocks near Contos in an incident which killed his friend.

From last September until last month, the service performed 1042 hours of patrols covering beaches which included an extended flight path down to Hamelin Bay. SLSWA’s general manager of lifesaving Chris Peck said the patrols were a vital emergency service and tied in with the WA Government’s shark mitigation strategy.

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

“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.”

Capes patrols doubled their amount of search and rescue activity, and the eyes in the sky meant beaches were closed more often than last year — three times the amount of Perth beaches. Margaret River’s Rivermouth beach is now also patrolled by SLSWA lifesavers during peak times.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails