There are seven shark nets (or technically, ‘shark barriers’) in WA, three installed in Perth and another four on the beaches of WA’s southwest. They are a relatively new addition to beach life in WA, giving us peace of mind to enjoy an ocean swim without jump-starting at every underwater shadow.
So what’s the difference between a ‘net’ and a ‘barrier’? Shark ‘barriers’ are made from rigid materials anchored to the seafloor and attached to surface floats, making them effective at keeping sharks out without impacting on smaller marine life. Shark ‘nets’ as used in other states are designed to trap sharks and are not used in WA.
Enjoy your swim!
1. Cottesloe beach, Cottesloe
Not surprisingly, Perth’s most famous beach has the most popular shark net. The Cott Eco Shark Barrier is 170m long and extends 140m from the shore, giving swimmers plenty of chance to stretch out for long laps. First installed at Cottesloe Beach for the summer swimming season in 2019, it has become a go-to destination for ocean swimmers and attracts a dedicated crowd from pre-dawn through to late morning. While each year is different, the net is usually installed in October and removed in March.
For the eco-lovers, you will be pleased to know the net is made from 100% recycled materials. On a good day with limited swell, there can be quite a few fish gathered around the groin and the net, which makes it a fun place for snorkelling. Shark nets have an interesting history at Cottesloe. In 1935, work began on running a shark net along the jetty (where the groin now sits) to a pylon north of the jetty and along wooden posts back to the beach. In 1936, a massive storm washed away the initial works and all that remains is the pylon.
2. Coogee beach, Coogee
Located just 10 minutes south of Fremantle, Coogee is a popular swimming spot and pontoons and jetty also make it a favourite spot for kids to play. Surf Life Savers are down on the sand every Saturday from 8:00am – 12:00pm midday and Sunday from 8:00am – 3:00pm. If you are looking for more adventure, just a 2-minute drive or 20 minute walk away, the Omeo Wreck Dive Trail is located just 40m off shore and a great place for a snorkel.
The original eco shark barrier was installed at Coogee Beach in the City of Cockburn in 2013 as part of a four-month trial, which was extended into an ongoing contract that continues to draw thousands of visitors each year. The net is approximately 300 metres long and 75 metres wide and extends from the seabed to surface to create a complete safe swimming area.
3. Quinns beach, Quinns Rock
Quinn’s Rocks Beach sits just North of Mindarie Marina and is the beach of choice for anyone living on Perth’s north coast. The 9km oceanside trail is perfect for weekend strolls and there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat and watch the waves roll from one of the sheltered spots beyond the sand.
The award-winning ‘Aquarius Gen 2 Barrier’ shark net was installed in January 2017 and is located just north of Portofino’s restaurant. The enclosure extends 85m offshore and 300m along the beach and is installed in the summer months and removed for winter. Typically calm waters and low numbers make this the perfect place for combining a long leisurely swim, walk and breakfast.
4. Busselton Jetty, Busselton
Busselton jetty, the underwater aquarium and the surrounding beach is one of the most popular destinations in WA’s southwest. Perfect for families and kids, despite its popularity, an endless stretch of white sands guarantees a quiet spot by yourself. It’s also home to Australia’s only Ocean Guardian Electrical Shark Barrier, which is located at the end of Busselton’s 160-year-old Jetty. It’s a unique setup with 3 ladders, one to the ocean floor, where Underwater Helmet Walks and Dive Tours operate from November to April each year. Coming in 2022, a new underwater sculpture project is scheduled to be installed on the ocean floor.
The technology is cutting-edge. Sharks have highly sensitive, short-range electrical receptors in their snouts. The barrier creates a powerful three-dimensional electrical field causing spasms and turning the sharks away, leaving locals and visitors to swim in peace.
5. Old Dunsborough Beach, Dunsborough
The shallow, calm waters and rocky shoreline of Old Dunsborough Beach have made it a favourite for locals and visitors for decades. The Eco Barrier shark net also makes it completely safe. The enclosure extends 100m from the shore and runs for approximately 300m. Complete the experience with a morning stroll and coffee from The Silver Bullet Espresso Coffee Van, which opens at 7am every morning. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings enjoy the popular food trucks. Parking can be a little tight when busy, so don’t hesitate to park further away and enjoy a stroll.
6. Ellen Cove, Albany
The new shark net at Ellen Cove, which was only installed in December 2020, is stronger and more flexible than the last and will be providing peace of mind for the next five years. The new net project has benefited from extensive consultation to ensure that there was better positioning of white swimmer’s distance marker floats, craft access points, beach anchor and signage.
7. Esperance Foreshore, Esperance
Esperance has some of the best beaches in the world with fine white sand and aqua blue waters contrasted with massive granite outcrops. In 2020, a new 300m long shark barrier was installed in Esperance Bay. What’s makes the Esperance barrier unique is that it encloses Taylor Street Jetty and a lap pontoon with lane dividers, making it perfect for a long swim without having to worry about which direction you are heading. After a swim, take a stroll along the foreshore, enjoy the playground or one of the local cafes and restaurants.