I grew up in this city and was an avid swimmer and surfer in my youth. During my whole time in the ocean off Perth I don't think I ever saw a shark. And I certainly never fretted over an attack.

I'm a lot older now, of course. So beach-going is not nearly as appealing to me as it was in the past. (Actually, the only surfing I've done for years now has been on the internet!)

But on the rare occasions I have headed to the beach in recent years I've definitely been mindful of the risk of sharks and been careful to swim between the flags. What used to be such an enjoyable environment seems a much more risky place now. That's unfortunate. 

I have long suspected that many others have had a similar change in attitude and this roundup of data confirms it.

Of course some experts believe that this "shark anxiety" is ill-founded and has largely been beaten up by the relentless media attention around the issue. But I disagree. The argument that we're encountering sharks more often because our numbers have increased and we all have cameras to record the action is just rubbish.

Without a doubt there are a helluva lot more noahs off Perth beaches than in decades past. Back in the day, if sharks were seen as frequently as they are currently the media would have been reporting this just as fervently. There was far less shark coverage (and ensuing anxiety) then because there were far fewer sharks!

Swimming in the ocean was always a bit risky because of rips and currents. But at least you weren't terrified of being devoured by a giant fish. Now, we all harbour this primal fear -- and with good reason. Things have changed hugely. Sadly, I don't think they will ever be the same again.