Lonely Planet Writer

Australian surfing beaches deserted after spate of shark attacks

Several of Australia’s top surfing beaches are virtually deserted following the spate of shark attacks the country has already experienced this year.

A spate of shark attacks has seriously hit attendances on Australian Beaches this summer
A spate of shark attacks has seriously hit attendances on Australian Beaches this summer Image by Alan Lee / CC BY 2.0

The publicity following the series of horror water accidents means that the normal water-loving Australians are having second thoughts about going to the beach  as the summer season begins down under.

Two lucky kayakers escape the jaws of a great white shark in Massachusetts. Image by Elias Levy / CC BY 2.0
The attacks have mostly involved great white sharks  with New South Wales experiencing four times as many attacks as in the previous two years. Image by Elias Levy / CC BY 2.0 Image by Elias Levy / CC BY 2.0

NBC reports that with 11 shark attacks in that New South Wales alone – nearly four times as many as the last two years – many sea-dippers are giving the ocean a wide berth.

The present situation in waters for hundreds of miles north of Sydney is that there are now regular helicopter patrols which spot when great white sharks get close to surfers – that is the few brave ones who are still getting into the water to catch the big waves.

The high profile nature of the reporting on this year’s incidents has certainly affected the Australians’ relationship with the sea.

One such case involved ex-boxer Craig Ison who was attacked by a Great White thee weeks ago. When he recovered from a coma, he declared that he would never be found in ocean water again.

That attack came hot on the heels of the incident where Matthew Lee, a body boarder, suffered serious bites to his lower legs at Lighthouse Beach.

The worst case occurred last February when a Tadashi Nakahara (41) was fatally attacked at Shelly Beach.

The rise in the shark attacks has re-energised the debate on whether there should be a culling of sharks, which are currently protected under Australian law.

However the animal rights group ‘No NSW Shark Cull’ emphasise that it is morally wrong to consider such a course of action if people get into water knowing the risks involved.