Whitsunday shark attacks response

In late 2018, there was an unprecedented spate of shark attacks in Cid Harbour in the Whitsunday area.

Cid Harbour is primarily a site for boat mooring and sharks are active in this area. No one should swim in Cid Harbour under any circumstances.

Signs advising people not to swim are in place around Cid Harbour and nearby marinas.

Five-point plan

After meeting with shark experts, tourism groups and other stakeholders in Airlie Beach on 9 November 2018, the government outlined a five-point plan to improve safety:

  • provide $250,000 towards scientific research into shark prevalence and behaviour in Cid Harbour
  • maintain Cid Harbour as a no-swim zone until that assessment is complete
  • develop a high-profile education campaign to immediately educate locals and visitors about shark safety
  • develop a broader SharkSMART education campaign, similar to the successful CrocWISE campaign running in North Queensland
  • continue to meet with industry stakeholders and experts to develop and progress responses.

Research

In December 2018, Biopixel Oceans Foundation was awarded $275,000 to deliver research into the prevalence and behaviour of sharks in Cid Harbour.

The research team completed their first research field trip in December, using a range of capture, tagging, tracking and visual survey techniques to assess the shark species present in Cid Harbour. Initial results are available in their interim report (PDF, 935.8KB).

The final project report is due by December 2019.