HSI Australia’s response to the shark incident that occurred at Elizabeth Bay in Sydney Harbour on Monday 29 February, 2024:

First and foremost, our thoughts go out to Lauren O’Neill, her family and friends, and first responders as this would have been a truly horrific experience. We wish Lauren a full recovery.

HSI Australia would like to thank the Minns Government for avoiding a knee-jerk reaction to this incident. The decision to NOT implement lethal measures, such as culling, is rational, logical and absolutely the right call.

Incidents like this are extremely rare, albeit a possibility, so it’s important for swimmers to be aware of measures to reduce their risk of shark bite. Sharks can be more active at night, therefore swimming at dawn and dusk is higher risk. Making use of shark safe swimming enclosures or wearing personal deterrent devices are also good options.

The majority of Australians recognise that the ocean is home to wildlife first and foremost. This is reflected in our recent polling that shows 8 in 10 Australians recognise they are entering shark habitat when they swim in the ocean, and assume personal responsibility.

Bull sharks are essential to the health of all semi-tropical and tropical estuarine ecosystems including Sydney Harbour. Without sharks, marine ecosystems would collapse. The bull shark involved in this incident is classified as globally Vulnerable to extinction.

Every year roughly 1,000 sharks are culled on Australia’s East Coast under the guise of swimmer safety, but there are modern, non-lethal measures that work to protect swimmers.

Measures such as drone surveillance and SMART drumlines have been tried, tested and proven to aid beach safety and to enhance our knowledge of shark behaviour.

HSI Australia looks forward to working with the Minns Government on improving New South Wales’ Shark Management Program to better protect swimmers and wildlife alike.

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