Driving to beach a bigger risk than sharks, says expert
THE most dangerous thing about going to the beach is the drive there, according to Southern Cross University shark expert Dr Daniel Bucher.
Dr Bucher, who is opposed to tough new anti-shark measures which are being proposed in Western Australia, said about 120 people drown at the beach each year. Compared to an average of one fatal shark attack each year.
And, according to statistics the biggest chance of accidental death is from a car crash.
The WA government is planning to introduce baited drum lines and is offering commercial fisherman a bounty to kill sharks which enter no go zones, all in attempt to make beaches safer for humans.
Dr Bucher said these measures would have little effect other than to kill sharks which were actually little threat to humans.
"It's very misguided and will only kill threatened species and non dangerous sharks," he said.
He said more effective measures would be aerial and beach surveillance.
In WA seven people have died from shark attacks in the last five years.
However, Dr Bucher said the alarming figures did not tell the whole story.
"When you are dealing with very small numbers they can easily look like huge numbers," he said.
He said the big picture needed to be looked at or a statistical glitch could be seen as a trend.
"There have been 50 (fatal shark attacks) in 50 years. That's one per year."
He disagreed there had been an increase in shark numbers on the Australian coastline in recent years.
"The only reliable figures are from the Gold Coast beach meshing and it shows huge declines in shark species," he said.
Families visiting the beach had little to fear from shark attacks providing the stayed in shallow water, inside the break, he said.
"You really do have more chance of dying in a car crash on your way to the beach," he said.
Since 1791 there have been :
- 68 fatal attacks in NSW
- 20 in Western Australia
- 82 in Queensland
- 18 in South Australia
- 3 in Tasmania
- 2 in the Northern Territory