CPR First Aid

Shark Attack Survival Stories in Perth

shark attack survivals in perth

Did you know that shark attacks are on the rise in Perth? Fortunately, many shark bite victims survive. It’s possible as more people in Perth are becoming more prepared for a shark attack. Preparedness comes with knowing what to do after a shark attack incident as it may mean a difference between life and death. A big part of this is knowing how to provide first aid treatment for the effects of a shark attack before rescue arrives. In the following discussion, stories of shark attack survival stories will be shared. One of them helped a victim get through a near-death experience with a first aid response before rescuers arrived.

Shark Attacks in Perth

There have been recorded 27 shark attack victims in Perth according to the Australian Shark-Incident Database from 1941-2019. In most of these life-threatening incidents, the shark bit the victims in their wetsuits and acquired injuries in various parts of their bodies. Let’s take a look at some of these shark attack survival stories.

"27 Perth shark attack victims from 1941-2019, many bitten in wetsuits. Explore survival stories."

A Surfer Survived a Great White Shark Attack in South of Perth

9news described how a young surfer survived a great white shark attack. He was helped by another surfer and then beachgoers applied first aid treatment to the shark bite. In their report, they stated that the victim was surfing at Bunker Bay, about 260km south of Perth, with other surfers. Suddenly, his upper leg was grabbed by a great white shark that launched out of the water surprisingly.

Then, his surfing board was destroyed by the shark. He jumped onto another surfer’s board after he was told to do so. Someone else paddled over to help him get to shore. Once they did, the shark bites he acquired were provided with first aid practices by the beachgoers by applying pressure to it to stop the bleeding. After a while, a rescue chopper arrived and he was brought to a hospital for surgery. The victim recovered and survived.

A Man Survived an Attack from an 18-feet long Shark

The Free Library details the story of how a man survived a shark attack from an 18-foot-long great white shark on Cottesloe Beach, Perth. The man and six others were having an early morning swim when suddenly a great white shark attacked. It was large and the water was shallow, so the shark was unable to get a hold of him properly and only injured his legs and feet. He was helped by the other friends to reach the shore. Since he incurred injuries, first aid may have been applied, before he was brought to a hospital for further treatment.

A Family Survived a Shark Attack without Injuries

An incident of a family’s encounter with a shark on the coast of Mandurah, south of Perth was described by 9news. The family was fishing when all of a sudden, a great white shark approached them. The shark stayed around their boat for about an hour and chomped their boat’s motor several times. Fortunately, that was all of it and the family was able to go back to shore without injuries. It was one of the scary shark attack incidents where knowledge of appropriate first aid management for shark bites may have been helpful. Especially if the shark was more aggressive and tried to attack the family members too.

Common Sharks in Perth

According to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, more than 100 of the world’s 370 shark species live in Western Australian waters. Some of these are:

  • Dusky Whaler sharks (Carcharhinus obscurus)
  • Sandbar sharks (Carcharhinus plumbeus)
  • Gummy sharks (Mustelus antarcticus)
  • Whiskery sharks (Furgaleus macki)
  • White sharks (C. Carcharias)

One of the most common attacks in Perth is by the Great White Shark which falls under the White Shark (C. Carcharias) species. This shark is one of the most feared sharks due to its aggressiveness and ability to kill humans.

Perth's notorious attacker: Great White Shark, feared for aggression & human threat.

Great White Sharks

Great white sharks have the shape of a torpedo, according to the Victorian Fisheries Authority. Furthermore, it has the following physical characteristics:

  • Distinctive crescent-shaped tail.
  • Very small second dorsal and anal fins.
  • Large, serrated triangular teeth.
  • Bronzy to blue on the top, white underneath.

Their colour makes it easy for them to camouflage in the water.


They have been seen on the beaches of Perth and other areas in Western Australia. In addition, the great white sharks have also been found in central Queensland (QLD), New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, and Southern Australia.


Great white sharks feed on a variety of fish, rays, other sharks, sea lions and seals, small-toothed whales, and otters.

Conservation Status

Great white sharks are now protected in all Australian states and territorial waters. The same is applied in other cities and countries where great white sharks are found like:

  • South Africa
  • Namibia
  • Maldives
  • Florida
  • California

The latest country to implement a Great White Shark protection status was New Zealand in 2007.

Migration Behaviour

Great white sharks in Australia have been observed to migrate to different countries, like New Zealand. The same behaviour was seen in great white sharks in other countries.

Why Great White Shark Attack Humans

In the Daily Mail‘s article, they mentioned that great white sharks attack humans as humans look like seals and sea lions to them. A finding revealed that a young great white shark mistakenly identified a swimmer to be a seal, which prompted shark bites. Similarly, research was made where GoPro was attached to an underwater scooter and set to travel at a typical cruising speed for predatory sharks. The result was that surfers and swimmers looked like seals and sea lions in the ocean. However, great white sharks are not the only species accountable for all shark attacks in Perth as there are other fearful species too.

Other Sharks Found in Perth

Aside from the Great White Shark, other kinds of sharks have been found in Perth too. There have been multiple reports where locals and beachgoers spot sharks on different beaches of Perth.

Tiger Shark Found in Whitfords Dog Beach

7news released a report about a tiger shark that has been seen coming to the same spot on a popular dog beach in Whitfords, Perth. Locals believe it’s the same shark that is seen circling the waters every day just a few metres from the shore.

Hammerhead Shark Found in Perth metropolitan waters

The University of Western Australia has made a study wherein a hammerhead shark was found in Perth metropolitan waters. This is an endangered species, so the presence of their recurrent aggregation implies water conservation in the area.

Bull Shark Injures a Man Who Was Swimming in Perth’s Swan River

The Guardian reports a shark attack incident that occurred in Perth’s Swan River. The shark was identified to be a bull shark who bit a man on the leg. He was then rushed to a hospital with serious injuries to his leg.

What to Do If a Shark Attacks You

Since shark attack incidents are becoming more common in Perth, it may be helpful to know what to do if you get into one. Below are the shark attack tips you may remember.

What to Do if You See a Shark

If in any case, you see a shark while swimming or fishing on any of the Perth beaches, you may do the following:

  1. Remain as calm as possible.
  2. Keep the shark in sight.
  3. Try to exit the water slowly.

The last step may be frightening, but it is important to do it while staying calm.

What to Do If a Shark Attacks You

If events get worse, you may try to do the following if a shark attacks you:

  1. Don’t use your hands in trying to fight the shark.
  2. Defend yourself by using whatever you have at your disposal (surfboard, dive gear, diving knife, fishing equipment).
  3. Aim to attack the shark’s eyes, nose, and gills.
  4. Scare the shark by making sudden movements.

Attacking the shark may be done by poking its eye, punching its nose, and placing something in its gills.

What to do after a Shark Attack

If any of the above defence methods against shark attacks work, you may then do the following:

  1. If there is a shark bite, apply first aid treatment by applying pressure before leaving the water.
  2. Get back to shore calmly and rest in a recovery position (on your side) so there is no blockage of your airway in case you lose consciousness.
  3. Once you’ve reached the shore, ask for help or call a lifeguard. If there is a major arterial bleeding, it may help to apply a tourniquet on the wound to control bleeding and prevent blood loss. It is available in many public first aid kits and shark bite first aid slam packs. If none of these is accessible, use a surfboard leg rope or a strap instead.
    • Such kits usually contain shears, nitrile gloves, combine dressings, and other tools for haemorrhage control and other incidents
  4. Assess yourself for other wounds and injuries.
  5. Dial 000 for emergency help.

First aid treatment for shark bites is one of the contents in a first aid course in 123C Colin St West Perth 6005. Skills and knowledge about such may ultimately make the difference between life and death after shark attacks.

New First Aid Technique for Shark Bites

Aside from the above tips, it may help to follow the life-saving recommendation of Dr. Nicholas Taylor from The Australian National University (ANU).

  1. Apply pressure to the femoral artery (near the groin) to slow down the blood flow
  2. Push it using a straight arm and your body weight from your back and shoulder

The website of Oceanfit released an article of this last year (2019) which provides additional details and an instruction card. In other news reports, it is said that Dr. Taylor wants to incorporate it in first aid training but it will need the approval of the Australian Resuscitation Council.


There have been an increasing number of shark attacks in Perth. Most shark attacks occur because the sharks mistake humans for their prey. There are a few things you can do to prevent getting attacked by a shark and some steps to follow if you are unfortunate enough to be attacked. Learning first aid is one way to be prepared for shark attacks.



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