It’s always in the back of our minds when surfing with very few people in the water. Are they any sharks around?

Despite being very rare, it’s natural to be fearful of sharks, and we are right inside their territory when surfing and swimming in the ocean.

To give some perspective: A person is 33,000 times more likely to die in a car accident than in a shark attack.

Let’s look at the full statistics of shark attacks on Sydney beaches.

Complete Statistic of Sydney Shark Attacks by the Beach (1791 – 2023)

Sydney BeachesTotal Number Of Shark AttacksSevere injury / DeathLast Shark Attack Year
Manly 322019 (suspected)
Last confirmed attack: 1936
Curl Curl 101916
Long Reef/
101953 (while spearfishing)
Mona Vale102010
Palm Beach00
Tamarama 0 0
Sydney Beach Shark Attacks

What’s interesting is shark attacks are more common in still water: There have been 32 shark attacks in rivers, bays and harbours in Sydney.

Do Certain Colours of Surfboards Attract Sharks?

According to world expert George Burgess, sharks see contrasting colours and may be attracted to bright colours. Therefore, yellow-coloured boards against black wetsuits and blue ocean may attract sharks. However, there are strong arguments against it as some believe sharks are entirely colour-blind.

Mick Fanning, 3 times world champion of the World Surfing League, was involved in a shark attack on live TV. Coincidently, he was riding a yellow-coloured board (underside of the board).

Also, see how sharks show more interest in the yellow colour here compared to red and black.

Do Shark Repellent Work?

Amongst shark repellent manufactured for surfers the only shark repellent with a meaningful effect on white sharks was Freedom+ Surf by Ocean Guardian according to Charlie Huveneers et al in 2018

This is battery operated device to create an electronic field to deter sharks. In the study, they used a bait and each repellent to see how many times sharks took the bait off while it was operating. Freedom+ Surf was able to reduce the take rate from 98 per cent down to 40 per cent.

The battery goes under the tail pad, and the sticker-like-thin adhesive antenna part goes on the underside of the board. The device was effective when the sharks were as close as 1.7m, so you can’t use it with your friends.

Please note that the risk is not zero, but it’s more effective than others in the market.

What Is The Month When The Most Shark Attacks Occur in Australia?

Shark attacks are most likely to occur in December and January in Australia. Please note December and January are Summer months in Australia.

See the below table for the total number of fatal shark attacks each month from 1820-2022

MonthsNumber of Shark Attacks
January 42
The number of fatal shark attacks in Australia for each month. Based on Data shown in Wikipedia.

What Time Do Most Shark Attacks Occur in Australia

Based on current data, most shark attacks occur from 10 am- 5 pm in Australia and peak from 3-4 pm.

It’s common to advise people to avoid going into the ocean at dawn and dusk. However, this advice is likely based on sharks’ eating or hunting behaviour rather than data.

Please see below the number of shark attacks that occurred based on hours of the day. Please note all shark attacks have recorded the time of the attack.

Hours of the dayNumber of Shark Attacks
1 AM0
2 AM0
3 AM1
4 AM2
5 AM2
6 AM5
7 AM5
8 AM5
9 AM6
10 AM10
11 AM9
12 PM11
1 PM11
2 PM12
3 PM17
4 PM17
5 PM9
6 PM7
7 PM1
8 PM1
9 PM0
10 PM0
11 PM0
12 AM0
The data have been derived from Wikipedia.

Here are statistics of when it did not specify the time.

Time of the day Number of Shark Attacks
Afternoon 7
Evening 5
Night 4

As you can see, it’s more likely to see shark attacks in the afternoon. The reason is unclear; this could be due to increased water activities during certain hours of the day.

Common Types of Sharks In Sydney Beaches.

Port Jackon Shark is the most common type of shark in Sydney Beaches. Grey nurse sharks, Crested horn sharks, Hammerhead sharks, Wobbegongs, Bronze Whalers, and Dusky whales are also quite common.

These breeds generally do not attack humans and there have not been cases where they fatally injured humans.

Great White, Bull Shark and Tiger Sharks are most aggressive towards human and has caused harm in Sydney Beaches.

Bull Shark is the most common dangerous species in Sydney Estuary and Harbour, and water temperature seems to be the most critical factor determining their movement. They move into Sydney when the water temperature is higher in Summer and Autumn.

How Can You Tell If Shark Is Near?

Unlike some movies, sharks do not show their fin when they approach people. Most of the time, a person will not realise when the sharks swim by. If concerned, Some experts suggest looking for diving birds for a pod of fish or fish jumping out of the water to avoid predators.

See when the Shark attacked Mick Fanning in J Bay. He was completely unaware of the attack until the sharks made a big splash beside him. Some people suggested that the shark may have behaved differently if they were hunting.

Mick Fanning Shark Attack


I have spent the last 15 years in Northern Beaches in Sydney and loves beaches. I have raised three beautiful children, all loving beaches and waves. I hope you share the same passion.

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