Mettams Pool: swimmers want better safety measures against sharks

Keith Bensky, John Boddy and Paul McDonnell.
Keith Bensky, John Boddy and Paul McDonnell.

CONCERNED swimmers at Mettams Pool in Trigg are calling for a sufficient shark warning system like shark detectors to improve safety in the waters.

The State Government announced last week that the near-shore shark detection system, Clever Buoy, would be trialled in the South West.

The Department of Fisheries issued a shark warning for the northern suburbs between Mettams Pool and Watermans Bay on September 2.

According to Department statistics, there have been 63 sightings at northern beaches, including 53 between Mettams Pool and Waterman’s Bay since June 6.

Gwelup resident Paul McDonnell said sharks had “domiciled” the Mettams Pool to Waterman’s Bay waters, where there had been an “unprecedented” increase in shark activity

“Although most of the 60-plus sightings of sharks over the last two months have been predominately 50m to 100m offshore, we recently had a rare occurrence of a shark actually entering the pool on Saturday, August 7,” he said.

“This incident was witnessed, first-hand, by Rick Piovesan, a member of the long-boarders surfing group which surfs on a daily basis just outside the Mettams Pool reef.”

Mr McDonnell said he thought the Clever Buoy offered swimmers “a glimmer of hope”.

“This would be a vast improvement on the current Shark Alert website and its partner’s (Surf Lifesaving WA) communication process which, generally, seems to be 12 hours behind actual timing,” he said.

“The State Government and the local government, they should both be getting together to protect this stretch of coastline where all the shark sightings are

Mr McDonnell said the recent sightings had kept regular swimmers out of the water.

“Debra, who swims here everyday, she will be in there and she will swim for 40 minutes,” he said.

“She has made herself a rule that she would not go in if the swell is above two metres because the sharks swim in and above the reef when it is above two metres so the rest of us have just picked it up as well.

“We stay inside the reef and that is why we chose to swim here because policy is that sharks are not going to scratch (their) belly trying to get to me over that reef because it is pretty dangerous for them.”

City of Stirling recreation and leisure services manager Simone Pastors said the City would be meeting with State Government agencies this week to discuss the Clever Buoy system.

“The City is aware of this concept in addition to the Clever Buoy detection system but has yet to fully investigate the system and its capabilities,” she said.

“Beach Inspectors will continue to provide mobile patrols to Mettams Pool and will respond to any sightings in the area.

“The City will also continue to liaise with the relevant State Government Agencies in relation to State Shark Mitigation initiatives.”

Ms Pastors said the City utilised instant SMS shark alerts and a Surf Life Saving WA rescue helicopter, which was the same shark monitoring systems used by the SLSWA.

“At patrolled beaches Beach Inspectors and Beach Lifeguards access Observation Towers in addition to roving mobile patrols,” she said.

“The City provides seven days a week, 365 days a year service to all beachgoers and is able to respond to shark sightings on all beaches within the City’s boundaries.”

She said when there was a shark sighting, beach inspectors would sound the shark alarm, clear and close the beach and signage would put up to indicate the closure.