Shark spotter flights brought forward in response to attack at Adelaide beach

Shark spotter flights brought forward in response to attack at Adelaide beach

Tuesday 14/11/2023
Shark spotter planes will begin flights above Adelaide beaches this weekend.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Aerial shark patrols will be brought forward by a fortnight along high-risk Adelaide beaches, the SA government says, in the wake of last week's terrifying attack in which a woman was bitten on the head.

Surveillance flights over metropolitan beaches will begin this Saturday on a daily basis, extending to the south coast on weekends and school and public holidays.

The government said the areas covered by the patrols stretch from North Haven in Adelaide's north-west to Rapid Bay on the Fleurieu Peninsula and also include the area from Victor Harbor to the Murray Mouth.

It said the patrols typically began during the first week of December but the decision had been made to bring them forward because of Friday's attack at Port Noarlunga.

Environmental science honours student Bridgette O'Shannessy was bitten by a shark near the jetty, a popular diving spot, and taken to Flinders Medical Centre with serious injuries.

"We know [it] is going to be a very warm summer," Emergency Services Minister Joe Szakacs said.

"There's no information we've got regarding shark movements themselves. What this is doing is reassuring the community that they can have that additional layer of coverage and protection.

"When they do head to one of our beaches … they'll be doing so knowing that we've got our shark patrol planes in the air."

The Port Noarlunga attack followed several others along South Australian coasts in recent months, including two fatal incidents in waters off Eyre Peninsula.

Late last month, 55-year-old Tod Gendle was surfing at Granites Beach when he was killed by a shark believed to be a great white.

In May, local teacher Simon Baccanello was fatally attacked near Elliston, about 120km from Streaky Bay.

The patrols will continue until Easter.

State Emergency Service (SES) chief officer Chris Beattie said the planes would alert beachgoers to the presence of sharks.

"In the event of a sighting that may pose a risk to the public, the aircraft will fly continuous orbits over the area and sound the siren, at which time people should immediately leave the water," he said.

Story by ABC

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