Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Wilcox says education is key to keeping people safe in the water
Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Wilcox says education is key to keeping people safe in the water Smart Smart DPI

'Historic figures show Whitsunday waters are safe'

EDUCATION and common sense were the two things Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox said the region needed to focus on when entering the ocean.

New research, provided to News Queensland, has revealed it was a blackspot shark that may have been responsible for the three shark attacks in the Whitsundays last year.

Cr Willcox said while the council welcomed any research that helped it better understand the wildlife and waters of the Great Barrier Reef, the historic figures showed the Whitsundays was one of the safest places to swim in the world.

"Prior to those tragic incidents late last year there had been no shark attack reported in our vast Whitsunday waters for almost a decade," he said.

"We share our reef with the natural wildlife and last year's attacks did occur in swimming no-go zones that warnings were issued about.

"Cid Harbour is not a recognised snorkelling or swimming area so outside of that area the vast waters off the Whitsundays are some of the safest in the world to swim and snorkel.

"We need to focus on educating people and practise common sense.

"Don't swim at dawn or dusk, download a shark safe app that gives you information on how to minimise risk, what time of year is the safest to swim and areas where it's safest to swim."

Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association vice-president Al Grundy said the region's safety record spoke for itself.

"Since the early 1990s when charter operators where first required to collect and remit Environmental Management Charge data we've had a conservative 50-million in-water activities within the Whitsundays' section of the marine park - and that doesn't include private users," he said.

"As unfortunate as last year's shark attack were and while even one fatality is a tragedy, these numbers prove the Whitsundays is actually very safe."

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive officer Tash Wheeler agreed, saying incidents in the region were rare.

"With the right precautions there's no reason not to enjoy the Whitsundays' underwater world," she said.


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