Shark Attacks in Australia

Shark Attacks in Australia
Photo by Wai Siew on Unsplash

Sharks That Attack

There are four hundred species of sharks worldwide, twelve of which are known to cause unprovoked attacks. All twelve are in Australian waters. However, of these twelve, four are responsible for the majority of fatal attacks.
  1. The bull shark
  2. The tiger shark
  3. The oceanic whitetip shark
  4. The great white shark

When Do Attacks Happen?

Though shark attacks happen year-round, studies have found that most shark attacks occur during the warmer seasons. In Australia, this is between November and April.

How to Decrease Your Chances of Becoming a Shark Attack Victim

The Australian Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts recommends the following:
  • Don’t swim far from the shore.
  • Don’t swim at the mouth of a river or on drop-offs to deeper water.
  • Avoid swimming in dirty water.
  • Don’t swim alone.
  • Don’t swim with domestic animals.
  • Don’t swim near people who are fishing.
  • Avoid swimming at dusk or nighttime.
  • If you notice schools of fish behaving erratically or in a large group, leave the water.
  • Limit your ocean swimming to beaches that utilise shark netting.
    • According to Time Magazine, shark netting has reduced the number of deaths from shark attacks on beaches significantly. The practice started in 1937 in New South Wales, and since then, the number of deaths caused by shark attacks on netted beaches has only been one. In Queensland, there hasn’t been a single fatal attack since they introduced nets in the 1960s.

Shark Rebranding

Although sharks and being a victim to one of their unprovoked attacks is a fear many share, your chances of befalling upon this fate are rare. In 2021 Australian authorities began to push a rebranding of the term “shark attacks” to “negative encounters” or “interactions”, hoping to alter the public perception of sharks and boost awareness and conservation efforts as their bad reputation is causing their numbers to dwindle.
Sharks play an essential role in the overall health of the oceans. Though many species still have sustainable populations, a considerable number are declining at rates of alarming speed, according to Blue Planet Aquarium.
The World Wild Life (WWF) and and other conservation organisations are leading the fight to save the world’s sharks. They work through TRAFFIC, the world’s largest wildlife trade monitoring network, to regulate the trade in shark fins and meat and reduce market demand. They are also trying to ensure that shark conservation and management measures are being put into place by fishery management organisations and countries participating in multilateral trade agreements.