Australia’s dangerous waters

The waters in and around Australia contain many perils, from living things and other dangers:

Sharks

The white pointer or great white shark is well known in Australian waters.  Their fierce reputation is well earned.

When we visited my wife’s sister in Perth, Western Australia, we swam at the well-known City Beach.

The newspapers reported that the City Beach Surf Life Saving Club spotted a European swimmer far away from the shore.  They rowed out to rescue him, but he refused to be brought into the boat.  He said he was training to swim to Rottnest Island, about twelve miles offshore.

Every day he was seen at the beach, swimming farther out each day.  The newspapers dubbed him ‘Mr. Shark bait’ and published cartoons of sharks talking about him and licking their lips.

One day he went out on his swim and disappeared.  He has not been seen since.

The swim to Rottnest Island had been made by swimmers that swam in cages to protect them from predators.  (More recently, the swim has become an annual event with hundreds of people swimming, while attending boats keep predators well away.)

The greynurse shark is ubiquitous in Australian waters.  It has had a reputation as attacking people, but it is largely undeserved.

Many popular Australian beaches have shark nets to protect swimmers from roving sharks.

The Blue-ringed Octopus is a cute little thing, about the size of a human hand.  They turn bright blue when angry.  Their bite is almost always lethal.  There is no known antivenom.  Click here for first aid information.

Sea Wasps and other jellyfish live in tropical waters around Australia.  A sting from their tentacles can be extremely painful or fatal.

Sea snakes should all be regarded as poisonous.

Rip currents are fast-moving currents along a beach that can sweep in and carry swimmers out to sea.  Any beach can have them.  Bondi beach, Australia’s most famous beach, has them regularly.  If caught in one, don’t fight it, just wait for the surf life saving club to rescue you.  Typically, the current might sweep you half a mile out to sea.

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