Shark activity not linked to stats
Tagged shark detections declined along WA’s south coast in 2018; however, the number of sightings more than doubled.
Figures obtained by the Advertiser show the number of tagged sharks detected by receivers from Walpole to Bremer Bay dropped from 262 in 2017 to just 52 in 2018.
Along the same stretch of coast shark sightings increased from 13 in 2016 to 34 in 2018.
Brett Hopley, from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s shark response unit, said the number of detections and/or sightings is not always an increase in sharks.
“The number of sightings and/or detections is not an indicator of shark numbers or activity as the same shark may be sighted and/or reported multiple times,” he said.
“Similarly, a shark swimming around a satellite-linked shark monitoring network receiver may also register multiple detections; in 2017 one shark alone provided more than 30 detections at the same buoy during a single day.”
He said in 2018 the WA Government started the Sea Sense campaign which encourages ocean users to report shark sightings as a measure for people to help keep beaches safe.
“The increase in sighting reports may also be attributed to increased awareness of reporting as well as promotions such as the current Sea Sense campaign,” he said. “Public sightings reports are vital to provide public safety warnings that may help to save peoples’ lives.” Western Australia’s integrated shark notification system has generated more than 12,500 notifications since November 2014, providing valuable information to help water users assess their personal safety.
This includes tagged shark detections from a satellite-linked receiver network, together with reported shark sightings and whale carcass notifications.
Three sharks were tagged off Albany during 2016 to 2018 — two great whites and a tiger, all off Cheynes. Mr Hopley said the shark detections are principally in Frenchman’s Bay and Ellen Cove, the locations of the satellite-linked shark monitoring network receivers, with sightings broadly reported across the region.
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