White shark sightings in Ocean Reef area

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The Department of Fisheries WA are able to advise that the high number of shark detections, triggering alerts for the community this week, have been the result of two white sharks, which have returned to the Ocean Reef area on several occasions.

Director General Stuart Smith said the sharks, previously tagged for the Shark Monitoring Network project, were known to be up to three metres in length.

'Local authorities and the public have been notified of the detections that have been made by a satellite-linked monitor close to the coast off Ocean Reef,' Mr. Smith said.

'There has been only one reported sighting of a shark in that area in recent days; however, it is believed both tagged and untagged sharks may be attracted to that part of the coast at present because of schooling fish, likely to be a transient environmental phenomenon.

'The authorities have closed beaches in the area as a valuable precautionary measure to help keep beach users safe and aware, which is a primary measure to remove imminent risk.'

Mr. Smith said the department was closely monitoring the local waters today and had deployed the patrol vessel (PV Waterman) to the area.

'In the event of a shark sighting, efforts will be made to negate the risk, through measures like shepherding the sharks further out to sea and advice to local authorities so they can implement necessary beach closures,' he said.

'In the event that the threat cannot be negated and an attack is deemed to be imminent, an order will be given to catch the shark for possible destruction.

'The Department of Fisheries is equipped to give effect to such an order.'

Mr. Smith said all the partners in shark hazard mitigation are working to keep the community aware of risks and it was important that people contacted shark safety authorities with sightings.

'If people see a shark, they should call Water Police on 9442 8600,' he said.

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