The shark problem here seems to be growing all the time. While there haven't been any attacks for quite a while, there have been sightings galore. Pretty much every day now there are reports of beaches being closed -- and not just in and near Perth. They're occurring at many places along the West Australian coast.

Take this incident at Twilight Beach in Esperance, in which a bunch of people were taken to safety by boat after a big noah was seen near the rock they had swum to.

And it's not just white pointers that are being spotted. There are hammerheads, tiger sharks and other species too. There's little doubt that there are more sharks of many species close to the coast. This theory about an ocean heatwave forcing sharks into cooler waters near the shore strikes me as plausible. (Not so sure about another theory involving sheep carcasses being thrown off boats, though. This has been going on for a long time now. And where is the evidence that there's been an increase in the practice in recent years?)

As well as the likely increase in numbers, there's also a heightened interest in sharks. With more people on the lookout for them they get spotted more often.

I think another fatal attack is pretty much inevitable. But even if one doesn't occur, I believe that the atmosphere on Perth beaches has changed permanently. There's no going back.

When I was growing up in this city a visit to the beach was an almost entirely carefree affair. I just never thought about sharks. The only potential risk I considered was sunburn! Sure, when Jaws came out that struck terror into everyone's hearts for a while. Going to the beach was a little different after that. But the fear soon passed.

Nowadays every beach-goer in Perth would have the thought of a possible shark attack lurking in the back of their mind -- and with good reason. Sad, really -- particularly for the kids.