Surfing With Sharks

Written by Madison Stewart with the help of many amazing scientists, oceanographers and badass ocean goers.

I looked on the surf life saving website not too long ago, it contained warnings of jelly fish, rips and skin cancer… I saw no mention of sharks. It’s become apparent to me that we as a country have no desire to face the reality of the apex predators we share the ocean with until it is too late, and then we talk about them in media stories of fear and terror. In the absence of knowledge and education, how can we expect to co-exist with what is, in reality, a dangerous animal? No cull or net will ever keep us 100% safe on our vast coastline, we will never rid the oceans of sharks, we cannot choose whether or not we interact with sharks, we can however choose the terms on which those interactions occur. This is my small – and I feel much-needed guide – for the people and surfers of Australia who are on the front line of shark interactions daily. You are in situations more dangerous than people like myself who base their work around diving with sharks ever are. You deserve to be flooded with information that may help you, also take responsibility to ensure that when you enter the ocean it is with the most educated approach towards its dangers. Sharks exist in our waters, and it’s not only our job to co exist with them, it’s our privilege, and I truly hope this document helps you do that. I hope this sheds some light on the seemingly endless darkness inspired by the Australian media towards the true risk of a shark attack. According to the Australian Shark Attack File run by the Taronga Zoo, in the last 50 years there have been 47 unprovoked shark attack fatalities. The Royal Life Saving Society notes a 10 year average of 292 deaths per year for people drowning in Australia. There were 176 diving related deaths in Australia between 2002-2009, an average of 23 per year. Fatalities from shark attacks over the last 50 years average just under one per year (0.9).