The coast of Western Australia evolved with an eye to the water. It was the original form of transport to this isolated stretch of land, well before the railway from the east coast reached across the Nullarbor. The waters here are warm and rich with marine life, a reality that attracts both aquatic hunters and human revellers to its shorelines. This has led to Western Australia leading the country in per-capita shark attacks.
Search and rescue companies here in Perth have long had to fight this particular battle. Cases such as these require fast response and a thorough, experienced crew both in the water and in the air. The injuries that are suffered at the teeth of these beasts require nothing less than the quickest help possible, or risk losing the victim.
However, the system can often struggle to identify the remote beaches where such attacks may occur. Problems with identifying the beach are often exacerbated by the state of mind of the caller, who is often somewhat shaken by their experience, and the sheer number of beaches along this huge stretch of coastline.
However, this could be set to change. The brother of Ben Gerring, who was killed by a shark last year, has been lobbying hard for a comprehensive, number-driven catalogue of beaches in Western Australia. Without going through the trouble of actually naming all of the beaches, this method would simply put a number code to the hundreds of unnamed, secluded beaches that line the coast.
In the future, search and rescue company members and lobbyists in Perth hope such a system will help to combat delays caused by misidentification, and lead to more shark attack victims getting the treatment they need, in a timely fashion.