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Shark Safety Information

Life Saving Victoria Baywatch

Even though shark encounters are rare, here are some common sense tips to help reduce the risk of one happening.

  1. Keep informed of the latest sightings. The VicEmergency website or app provide the latest alerts for sightings at patrolled beaches. Check before heading to the beach.
  2. Help others be informed. If you recognise an immediate danger to the community, report a shark sighting by calling 000. Notify lifesavers immediately if you are at a patrolled beach.
  3. Swim between the red and yellow flags. Swim and recreate at patrolled beaches where possible and obey beach closures advised by lifesavers, lifeguards or local authorities.
  4. Avoid hazardous waters. Never swim in places where human or animal waste enters the water. Also avoid disposing of fish waste near swimming beaches and don’t remain in the water with bleeding wounds.
  5. Recognise the danger signs. Keep away from large schools of fish, seals or wildlife behaving erratically.
  6. Never swim or recreate alone. Always swim, dive or surf with a friend.

Additional tips for divers, snorkelers and spearfishers

  • Understand the rules and regulations in relation to shark species.
  • Understand and respect the environment. Marine and estuarine waters are the shark’s habitat – find out what kind of sharks you might see and what behaviour to expect from them.
  • Remember: using bait to lure fish may attract sharks.
  • Avoid diving in conditions with limited visibility.
  • Don’t chase, grab, corner, touch, spear or attempt to bait a shark while underwater.
  • Don’t attach speared fish to your body or keep them near you. Use a float and line to keep your catch well away.

For more information visit Victorian Fisheries Authority website here: SharkSmart

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I find out when there has been a reported shark sighting?
The VicEmergency website and app provide the latest alerts for sightings at patrolled beaches. Check the VicEmergency website or app for alerts before heading to the beach.

Q. What does a shark sighting mean?
This means that a shark has been reported to authorities, and listed on the VicEmergency website/app to enable the community to make informed decisions about their beachgoing. This may occur at any beach in Victoria.

Q. How is a shark sighting verified?
Shark sightings are verified through observation by lifesavers, this may be from the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopters or other lifesaving vessels, or by police or fisheries officers.

Q. Will the beach be closed?
Yes, if there is a risk to swimmers, lifesavers will close the beach. Lifesavers will remove the red and yellow flags and may also sound a warning siren from the lifesaving club or from the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter. Following the confirmed sighting of a shark, the beach and the area one kilometer either side of the shark location will be closed for a period of two hours, before reassessing.

Q. When will it be safe to go back in to the water / how long will the beach be closed for?
Lifesavers will reopen the beach when the perceived danger has passed. This will be indicated by replacing the red and yellow flags. If a shark sighting occurs at 1700 hours or later, the beach will be closed for the remainder of the day given the heightened risk of shark activity.

Q. Is it safe to go swimming?
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 and lifeguards 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 sirens. You should leave the water as soon as one is sounded or a shark is spotted.

Q. What should the public do when there is a shark sighting?
Swimmers and other water users should leave the water immediately when advised by lifesavers or on hearing a shark siren from a lifesaving club or from the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter.

Beachgoers should obey the beach closures when advised by lifesavers and other authorities and seek advice from lifesavers before re-entering the water.

Lifesavers will reopen the beach when the danger has passed. This will be indicated by replacing the red and yellow flags.

Q. Are all sharks dangerous?
Of the 160-plus known species of Australian sharks, only three are regarded as posing a significant risk to human safety:

The white shark or white pointer/great white (Carcharodon carcharias)
Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)
Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas)

Wobbegong, hammerhead and whaler sharks, while usually harmless, have also bitten humans, but the bites are rarely fatal. As is the case with other wild animals, sharks may bite when they feel threatened and, no matter how big or small, should be left alone.

Latest Updates & Alerts

Visit VicEmergency website to access all emergency warnings including current shark sighting alerts for patrolled beaches.

Download the VicEmergency App from the App Store or Google Play