One of WA’s biggest surf clubs will stage a radical trial of shark repellent devices in a bid to reassure anxious swimmers and protect child competitors from shark attacks this summer.
Long-serving Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club member Stan Davies said from Sunday lifesavers would wear shark shields while nippers races were held at the southern end of the beach.
The devices, eight of which were given to the club by the manufacturer at a cost of $850 each, are designed to repel sharks by emitting electronic pulses that interfere with the predator’s senses.
Mr Davies said that after five fatal attacks by great whites in the past 18 months, the confidence of parents with kids in surf lifesaving had taken a hit.
Under the plan, senior lifesavers who use rescue boards to oversee underage races will strap the shark shields to their ankles and sit in the water between the beach’s groyne and pylon to effectively form a barrier against any sharks.
If having the devices in the water helped put people’s minds at ease and encouraged involvement in surf lifesaving, the idea was worth it, Mr Davies said.
Surf Life Saving WA community safety manager Chris Peck said the spate of recent shark attacks had affected confidence but said the “jury was still out” on whether shark shields were the answer.
Mr Peck said the cost of the devices could be a problem for many surf clubs.
“$850 — that’s a lot of sausages that a surf club has got to sell at a dollar a piece to get it back,” Mr Peck said.