How to reduce the risk of an encounter with a shark
Swim between the red and yellow flags
One of the simplest safety routines to follow is to only swim at patrolled beaches and to stay between the flags. This is the safest place to swim because lifesavers and lifeguards are there to monitor beach and water conditions and maximise the safety of all beach goers. Pay attention to the advice of the lifesavers and safety signs. Patrolled beaches may also sound shark alarms. You should leave the water as soon as an alarm is sounded or a shark is spotted.
SharkSmart swimmers and surfers
- Tell an on-duty lifesaver or lifeguard if you see a shark.
- Stay close to shore when swimming.
- Stay out of the water with bleeding cuts or wounds.
- It's best to swim, dive or surf with other people.
- Avoid swimming and surfing at dawn, dusk and night – sharks can see you but you can’t see them.
- Keep away from murky, dirty water, and waters with known effluents or sewage.
- Avoid areas used by recreational or commercial fishers.
- Avoid areas with signs of bait fish or fish feeding activity; diving seabirds are a good indicator of fish activity.
- Dolphins do not indicate the absence of sharks; both often feed together on the same food, and sharks are known to eat dolphins.
- Be aware that sharks may be present between sandbars or near steep drop offs.
- Steer clear of swimming in canals and swimming or surfing in river/harbour mouths.
- Avoid having pets in the water with you.
- Keep away from shark nets and other shark mitigation measures.
- Consider using a personal deterrent.
- There are several commercially available shark deterrent products but the NSW Government recommends investing in a device that has been independently tested and verified.
- As a part of the NSW Shark Management Strategy, funding was provided to independently test a number of shark deterrent products. Read the Flinders University report (PDF, 1624.03 KB).
SharkSmart divers, snorkellers and spearfishers
- Understand and respect the environment. Find out which species of shark you are most likely to encounter and what behaviour to expect from them.
- Realise that diver safety becomes increasingly difficult with decreasing visibility, such as at night or in turbid water and with increasing depth and current.
- Discuss dive logistics and contingency plans such as hand signals, entry and exit considerations and separation procedures with your dive partner before you enter the water.
- Be aware that using bait to lure fish may attract sharks.
- Don't chase, grab, corner, spear or touch a shark.
- Don't use bait or otherwise attempt to feed a shark while underwater. Feeding may radically change the shark's behaviour and may lure other sharks.
- Observe and respond to a shark's behaviour. If it appears excited or agitated, exhibiting quick, jerky movements or other erratic behaviour, leave the water as quickly and calmly as possible. Try to minimise splashing and noise.
- Be aware of the behaviour of fish. If they suddenly dive for cover or appear agitated, leave the water as quickly and calmly as possible. A shark may be nearby.
- Do not attach speared fish to your body or keep them near you; use a float and line to keep your catch well away.