South Head and North Head beaches in the Moruya area were closed today (January 7) following the sighting of four white sharks, with several other South Coast beaches evacuated in recent days.
Yesterday, North Broulee beach was evacuated during a busy weekend swimming period around 12:30 pm after helicopter patrols identified a 2.2-metre white shark.
Sharks have also recently been spotted at places such as Bengello, Greenfields, Sussex Inlet, Tapalla Point, Seven Mile, and Conjola.
However, surf lifesavers say that the risk to swimmers is quite low provided they swim at patrolled beaches.
— SharkSmart (@NSWSharkSmart) January 6, 2019
CEO of Lifeguarding Services Australia, Stan Wall, said four sharks had been sighted between the middle of Broulee Beach and South Head beach, with South Head and North Head beaches closed for the full day today (January 7) and at least until tomorrow afternoon.
They have also advised people not to swim at Shelly Beach or at the lower half of Broulee Beach.
Mr Wall said South Head and North Head beaches were evacuated at 7:46 am after the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) helicopter saw a shark in the area.
“At 8 am we sent a lifeguard out on a jet ski and the sharks hadn’t gone away,” he said.
“There’s two that we chased off and they came back. While they’re in the area we’ll keep the beaches closed.”
Mr Wall said that more sharks are spotted at this time of year because more resources are put into finding them including professional lifeguards on patrol and the DPI helicopter flying over twice a day.
However, he agrees that it is also a busy time for tourists as they flock to the beaches – some of which are now closed. Mr Wall said that swimmers are redirected to other beaches away from the sharks.
“Lifeguards have been redeployed to other swimming beaches in the Eurobodalla and locals and visitors wanting to dip their toe, or something more, should visit a patrolled beach,” he said.
The other patrolled beaches in the Eurobodalla Shire are at Surf Beach, Malua Bay, South Broulee, Tuross Head, Dalmeny and Narooma.
Far South Coast Surf Lifesaving NSW spokesperson Andrew Edmunds said the North Broulee beach is unpatrolled and so is just monitored through aerial surveillance.
“If the public are concerned the best thing they can do is swim at a patrolled location,” Mr Edmunds said.
He said that three types of shark have been deemed hazardous by the DPI – namely, white sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks – with mitigation strategies such as aerial surveillance used to reduce the risk.
“While it [a shark] is a hazard, it is a very minor hazard in terms of how people are likely to get into trouble in the ocean.”
A spokesperson for the DPI said that when sharks are observed or detected, alerts are posted on the Department of Primary Industries’ SharkSmart app and Twitter. To see them go here: https://twitter.com/NSWSharkSmart.
— SharkSmart (@NSWSharkSmart) January 3, 2019
“DPI is continually working to reduce the risk for beachgoers, but we can never make it 100 per cent safe,” the spokesperson said. “We encourage all beachgoers to be SharkSmart.”
The DPI has provided the following ‘SharkSmart’ safety tips:
- don’t swim at dawn or dusk as many sharks feed at this time
- consider using a personal deterrent device
- swim between the flags: Don’t surf or swim alone – always buddy up
- be aware if you see diving birds and baitfish, sharks may be present, leave the water
- avoid sandbars, river mouths and steep drop-offs – sharks could be present
- don’t swim or surf in murky waters
- surfers: check conditions and assess the risks
- respect the ocean – sharks are important for healthy seas.