Something a lot of Perth people must have noticed with alarm is the rise in the number of shark attacks in recent years. The latest one resulted in the death of Bryn Martin. Another poor bloke called Ken Crew was taken off Cottesloe about ten years ago. And there have been others.

These fatalities are both tragic and terrifying. But there are all those shark sightings as well. These days, you often hear about them on the news. There was one recently off Mullaloo beach. And here are details of a couple of others.

When I was in my teens I did a lot of surfing on many Perth beaches, and I never once saw a shark. Yes, there was the odd sighting that made the news as far as I can recall. But I can't remember news of anyone actually being attacked during that time. I, like all my surfing mates, never gave the threat much thought at all.

Of course there are more people in the water and on the beaches now. So there's probably a greater likelihood of reports being made -- as well as more reason for hungry sharks to come looking for a feed!

Still, that can't explain all of the rise in sightings. The increase seems just too great. There are various theories about what might be causing it, including more whale carcasses floating around, and the fact that great whites are a protected species, and therefore increasing in number.

Whatever the reason, it gives going to the beach in Perth a whole different vibe. While the odds of actually being attacked are still very small indeed, and people aren't going to stop enjoying the beaches here, they surely must have a growing sense of trepidation about swimming now. (I know I do!) That's a pity.

UPDATE: There's just been another fatal attack, this time off Rottnest. Considering how soon this is after the last one was, and how close as well, there must be a possibility that the same shark was involved.

UPDATE: I just read a story in today's Sunday Times that fielded the possibility it was the same shark. The "second bite theory" was suggested by shark fisherman Neville Mansted. Unfortunately that particular article is not available online, so I can't link to it.

Well, if it is the same shark, then it's clearly got a taste for human flesh! That makes the decision to hunt it down and kill it all the more justified.