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.
Download the SharkSmart brochure [700 Kb]
Swim between the flags
One of the simplest safety routines for people to follow is to only swim at patrolled beaches and to stay between the flags. This is the best place to swim because lifesavers (www.slsa.asn.au) and lifeguards (www.lifeguards.com.au) or (www.apola.asn.au), are there to monitor all manner of risks and maximise the safety of swimmers. Pay attention to the advice of the lifesavers and safety signs. Patrolled beaches may also sound shark alarms. You should leave the water as soon as one is sounded or a shark is spotted.
SharkSmart swimmers and surfers
- Tell an on-duty lifesaver or lifeguard if a shark is spotted near swimmers or surfers.
- Don't swim too far from shore.
- Swim in groups..
- Avoid swimming and surfing when it's dark or during twilight hours.
- Avoid murky water, waters with known effluents or sewage.
- Avoid areas used by recreational or commercial fishers.
- Avoid areas with signs of baitfish or fish feeding activity; diving seabirds are a good indicator of fish activity.
- Do not rely on sightings of dolphins to indicate the absence of sharks; both often feed together on the same food.
- Be aware that sharks may be present between sandbars or near steep drop offs.
- Avoid swimming in canals, and swimming or surfing in river/harbour mouths.
- Avoid having pets in the water with you.
- Do not swim/surf near or interfere with shark nets.
SharkSmart divers, snorkellers and spearfishers
- Understand and respect the environment. Find out about what kinds of sharks you will likely encounter and what behaviour to expect from them
- Realise diver safety becomes increasingly difficult with decreasing visibility, such as at night or in turbid water, and with increasing depth and current.
- Discuss dive logistics and contingency plans such as hand signal, entry and exit considerations and separation procedures with your dive partner before you enter the water.
- Be aware that using bait to lure fish may attract sharks.
- Don't chase, grab, corner, spear or touch a shark .
- Don't use bait or otherwise attempt to feed a shark while underwater. Feeding may radically change the shark's behaviour and may lure other sharks.
- Observe and respond to a shark's behaviour. If it appears excited or agitated, exhibiting quick, jerky movements or other erratic behaviour, leave the water as quickly and quietly as possible.
- Be aware of the behaviour of fish. If they suddenly dive for cover or appear agitated, leave the water as quickly and quietly as possible.
- Do not attach speared fish to your body or keep them near you; use a float and line to keep your catch well away.
First aid & treatment
Given the nature of injuries sustained from a shark, managing wounds and bleeding is the paramount concern and is best undertaken by someone who is trained and or able to give assistance to the victim (e.g. lifeguards, emergency services and qualified first aiders).
For further information about becoming trained in first aid please refer to the links below.