Warning as lifeguards go back on duty: Surf Lifesaving WA

Premier Colin Barnett with Cottesloe SLSC members at the launch of the new patrol season.
Premier Colin Barnett with Cottesloe SLSC members at the launch of the new patrol season.

IT may feel like summer, but Surf Lifesaving WA general manager Chris Peck says beaches can be at their most dangerous at this time of year.

“It’s simply because you have the tail end of the winter swell which causes the waves to come over the shore breaks’ sand banks,” Mr Peck said, as full-time lifeguards started last week.

After two lifeguard towers were reinstalled at Cottesloe Beach last Thursday, he and Premier Colin Barnett said swimmers should not over-estimate their skills and ability to survive when in difficulty, and to swim in patrolled areas between beach flags.

“Swells and rips are still the greatest threat to you,” Mr Peck said.

The State Government will provide $2.6 million for patrols, including daily rescue helicopter surveillance from Yanchep to Mandurah, and daily during Christmas holidays in the South-West.

The flights contributed to 346 sharks being spotted in both areas last year, after public concern peaked following seven fatal attacks in three years until 2011.

Mr Barnett said it was now appropriate to have aerial and beach patrols, net enclosures at some beaches and a policy to destroy large sharks lurking at popular beaches.

However, his Government would not review its rejection of other non-lethal shark protection measures, including plastic floating barriers, electronic smart buoys and electronic shark shields for beaches.