Shark nets were first introduced to Sydney’s beaches in 1937 after 15 years of relentless attacks by sharks – for example 2 people were killed in 1 week by a Great White shark. There are now 51 netted beaches in New South Wales, and 83 in Queensland – the nets go all the way up the coast to Cairns.
A few years ago I did actually swim over the shark nets on Manly beach, it was SCARY, a major freak out moment when I turned back to shore and swam so fast as soon as I saw them!
What Are Shark Nets?
They are nets placed at a depth of 6m about 500m from shore with holes 50cmx50cm designed to catch large sharks (2m plus). The diagram below from Wikipedia shows basically how they work… The nets don’t go all the way to the top of the water because of the surf. Surfers still need to be able to surf without getting tangled in the nets as the ocean rises and falls.
The shark nets are designed to keep the big sharks out, but sometimes that can result in other animals becoming caught in them. There are alerts on the nets so that when there is something caught it can be rescued by the fisheries. The nets are also there to discourage sharks from establishing beach waters as their territory.
The nets are only in place 8 months of the year in NSW from September to April.
Do Shark Nets Work?
Since the introduction in 1937 there have been far less deaths due to sharks (according to the stats), indeed only 1 recorded death by a shark at a netted beach. So in terms of protecting swimmers and surfers yes they do work.
However, there are many people who disagree with the shark nets saying that they catch more endangered marine life than they do dangerous sharks. There are also apparently a lot of shark nets with giant holes in them that a shark could easily get in via… I don’t know enough to agree or disagree with shark nets, but this is just to inform readers how they work.
There were boats on Mona Vale beach this week putting out the nets ready for summer, and I have to say that as a swimmer I do feel slightly reassured that the beach is netted, even though if you listen to the naysayers it isn’t really protecting me but is killing marine life….. There are now more modern technologies that could be used to deter sharks.
I do wonder how “Fluffy” the baby 1.8m great white shark got into Manly beach (a netted beach) last week…
What are your thoughts on nets? Good? Bad?