SharkSmart - know the risks and minimise your chance of a close encounter with a shark

Sharks are a natural part of healthy oceanic and estuarine environments. When people enter open water, they are entering the shark's domain.

A better awareness and understanding of sharks and their behaviour can help those who wish to enjoy the world class waterways of New South Wales.

We want everyone to safely enjoy water sports, particularly younger people and visitors to our state, as well as surfers and divers who choose to swim outside patrolled areas.

SharkSmart offers advice on how to reduce the risk of shark attack and aims to inform the public about sharks, their habitat and nature.

Observation Tower Grant Program

Information about the NSW Government observation towers grant program.

About sharks

General information to raise awareness and understanding of sharks and their behaviour.

Tips to reduce your risk of shark attack

This information is provided to help swimmers in all of the state's waters (including all beaches and estuarine environments) and is designed to complement other safe swimming messages.

SharkSmartGot an iPhone?

You can download the SharkSmart app from the App Store.

Identifying sharks

Information on how to identify the more common sharks.

Research & other NSW DPI activities

Further information relating to shark research initiatives, scientists and papers.

NSW Shark Meshing publications

Publications related to the NSW Shark Meshing Program


There are about 368 species of shark.

They differ in the way they look, live and eat with varying shapes, sizes, colour, fins, teeth, habitat, diet, behaviour and reproduction.

Sharks have existed for over 350 million years.

They evolved over 100 million years before dinosaurs, and long before humans.

Fully grown sharks range in size from 16 cm long (dwarf lantern fish) to 15 metres (whale shark).

The females of most shark species are usually larger than males.

Unlike many other fish, sharks have no bones. Their skeleton is made of tough, fibrous cartilage which is not as hard as bone.

Sharks have a range of sensory systems on their heads and bodies, including a keen sense of smell, excellent vision, and unique vibration and electrical discharge senses that enable them to pursue prey and avoid attacks.

Most species of sharks are harmless to humans unless provoked.

There are only three species widely accepted as dangerous and known to attack without provocation. They are bull sharks, great white sharks and tiger sharks.

Bull sharks and great white sharks have been positively identified as responsible for attacks on humans in NSW waters, and tiger sharks have also been thought responsible for numerous attacks.

Sharks were once fished for the rich oil in their livers.

Sharks have relatively large livers that contain oil to provide increased buoyancy.

Sharks must swim constantly or, being heavier than water, they will sink to the bottom.

Almost half the 368 species of shark are less than 1 metre in length.

Sharks can detect tiny electrical fields generated by all animals, for example, from heart beats and other muscle contractions.

Download the SharkSmart brochure [700 Kb]

SharkSmart brochure request form

See also...

Surf Life Saving BeachSafe website

NSW Cancer Council SunSmart website