Cottesloe Eco Shark Barrier
20th March 2020
Spring to Autumn
Directions - Located in the western suburbs of Perth, this popular beach is very accessible with lots of parking. You can either park along Marine Parade or use one of the many car parks near the main strip. There is no trail to follow so you can set your gear down anywhere along the main beach (beware of leaving your valuables unattended) and explore the shark net and groyne.
The Snorkel - Cottesloe Beach is one of the more iconic locations in Western Australia with the white sandy beach, pristine waters and Indiana Tea House all combining to provide a postcard perfect depiction of summer in Australia. It was always a favourite beach of mine during my younger days and I have fond memories of lazing around in the sun after a refreshing dip in the Indian Ocean. Over the years I've returned sporadically, mainly to check out the annual Sculptures by the Sea art exhibition and every visit feels like I'm on holiday.
Back in my day (I'm old), there was no such thing as a shark barrier at Cottesloe with a swim at your own risk policy in place. Fast forward to 2019 and the Town of Cottesloe decided to erect one stretching from the groyne to just past the famous pylon to ease the anxiety for swimmers during the summer months (it gets taken down from April to October). Whether it was a late reaction to the two people who were killed by shark attacks in the area in the last 20 years or a continuation of Colin Barnett's War on Sharks (he was a mainstay in the seat of Cottesloe), I am not sure but here we are. I'd never considered the spot a go-to destination for snorkelling in Perth but now I've upgraded my camera and frequently scroll through the Perth Snorkelling FaceSpace group, my list of places to explore is growing. One of the reasons I wanted to check out this spot were some photos posted showing large schools of various fish hanging out just beyond the shark net. Like the artificial installations at the Coogee Maritime Trail, the net attracts all kinds of marine life as they seek shelter and food. With that in mind I was keeping an eye out for the right time to visit with low or easterly winds, a small swell and good lighting. A hot, humid and relatively still summer over 2021 meant the afternoons had served up several good opportunities to get out and have a snorkel where usually there would be a stiff sea breeze. Convincing Caris to join me on this trip, mainly to look after my new DSLR while I was in the water, she was happy to come along and camp out on a beach chair while I checked out the area.
With Sculptures by the Sea still in full swing, we had a bit of a look around (we'd already been once already this summer) and Caris settled near her favourite piece, The Boab. I headed into the water near the groyne and started exploring the submerged rocks. Unfortunately visibility was pretty poor but there was still life around in the form of Red Lipped Morwongs and a small school of silver fish. My plan was to head out to the shark barrier and then follow that all the way around to the pylon and return to the groyne to explore the southern side over the shark barrier. Arriving at where the net meets the groyne, I wasn't seeing too much life around but then a school of small bait fish appeared out of nowhere and I followed them around trying to get some decent shots. As I headed along the edge of the net I started spotting Sea Nettles and tried to keep well out their way. With the poor visibility I was constantly scanning for these floating menaces and it kind of distracted me from searching for different fish along the shark net. When I did see something cool, there was always a Sea Nettle in the way so had to do some creative diving to avoid being stung. I made it to the pylon and despite the murky conditions, I had some cool finds including a large black Sea Hare, a toxic blob that are particularly harmful to dogs.