Shark warning towers installed at three Esperance beaches

New mitigation: The region's first Spectur warning system has been installed overlooking West Beach and a further two towers will be functioning in Kelp Beds and Twilight Beach. Photo: Shire of Esperance.
New mitigation: The region's first Spectur warning system has been installed overlooking West Beach and a further two towers will be functioning in Kelp Beds and Twilight Beach. Photo: Shire of Esperance.

The first of three shark warning beacons to be installed across popular Esperance beaches is now operational at West Beach.

The new land-based warning system is remotely operated and features flashing lights, sirens and a voice message to warn beach-goers of nearby tagged shark activity or sightings.

Two towers will also be installed at Twilight Beach and Kelp Beds in the coming weeks.

Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley promised the installation of the towers following a fatal shark attack on January 5.

Two Shark Monitoring Network receivers were also promised and installed at Twilight Beach by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to provide further updates to WA's shark notification system, SharkSmart.

The Shire of Esperance will manage the day to day operations of the towers and will manually activate the alarms to warn beach-goers when they receive a notification of a shark sighting or detection.

This aims to reduce the response time from when the shire receives advice from SharkSmart to on-ground information being received by ocean-users.

Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley said the state government was working closely with the Esperance Shire to boost safety.

"Towers with visual and audio alarms are already used to alert beach-goers and others at coastal surf spots on parts of WA's South-West coast managed by the Margaret River Shire Council as part of the state government's SMART drumline trial," he said.

Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott said the towers were an additional tool in the Shire's response to shark sightings and incidents.

"We don't know if there is a one-size-fits-all solution to the issue but this is a great start, along with the Sharksmart app," he said.

"The app is a fantastic tool to keep people who are on the beach informed, however the towers will ensure those who are in the water are aware of shark activity.

"As a council we will look at innovative and new solutions to keep our residents and visitors as safe and informed as we can."

The shire acknowledged that the warning tower may affect nearby residents and said it had been in contact with developers to understand if certain elements could be altered if needed.

Esperance Ocean Safety and Support chairman Mitchell Capelli said the group had been lobbying for a warning system for beach-goers since the installation of shark receiver buoys across Esperance three years ago.

"However, the biggest concern the group has is that there was no consultation about where the tower was going to be put," he said.

"We do not want it going off for bronze whalers, it needs to be purely for white sharks, so being able to distinguish when it is triggered is key.

"We want to inform the public the best way we can without raising too much alarm and creating hysteria around town."