Helicopter patrols keep careful watch over WA beaches

  • Cook Government provides $4 million for Surf Life Saving WA helicopter patrols in 2023/24
  • Weekend patrols have begun, switching to daily from school holidays
  • Surf Life Savers on beaches and in the air provide vital frontline safety services

Surf Life Saving WA’s (SLSWA) helicopter patrols are back this spring and summer, offering valuable eyes in the sky to alert beachgoers to shark activity along Perth and South West beaches.

The patrols are a crucial component of the Cook Government’s shark hazard mitigation program, one of the most comprehensive in Australia, with a range of actions and tools to help keep ocean users safe.

A total of $17 million has been allocated for the extensive WA program through to 2024/25, which includes the beach and aerial patrols, integrated communications systems, and jet ski response teams.

The funding also supports targeted shark tagging, the SharkSmart WA app, downloaded by over 134,000 beach users, and continuation of the $200 personal shark deterrent rebate scheme, which has been taken up by more than 8,800 people.

An additional $4.5 million will be used to upgrade the State’s Shark Notification and Response System to make it cloud-based. This will ensure reliable and up-to-date information on shark activity and vital public safety warnings.

Perth metropolitan aerial patrols cover the coast from Yanchep to Mandurah, with the SLSWA helicopter also heading out to Rottnest to circle the popular holiday island.

In the South West, patrols run from Bunbury as far south as Hamelin Bay. Initially in spring, both services operate on weekends only and daily for the September school holidays.

Metro patrols then operate daily to the end of April 2024. SLSWA’s South West helicopter has a range of service dates covering weekends and key holiday periods that are available online at: 2023/24 service dates My Beach.

The helicopter crews are skilled at locating rip currents and incidents on beaches, as well as identifying risks from marine life, including sharks.

As stated by Fisheries Minister Don Punch:

“I thank the helicopter crews for their dedication to keeping watch over our popular beaches in Perth and the South West for holidaymakers and locals alike.

“The patrol crews report shark sightings to Water Police as part of their role and, if they come across a shark close to any beaches, they will hover and sound their siren to warn the public and then continue patrolling after swimmers are out of the water.

“If you’re at a beach when the helicopter siren is sounded, the important advice is to stay out of the water for at least sixty minutes.

“And remember if you see a shark, please report the sighting to Water Police on 9442 8600 with the BEN sign number for the exact location details and you’ll be doing your bit to keep other beachgoers safe.”

/Public Release. View in full here.