Sharks can follow autumn salmon run

Schools of salmon soon to appear along the WA coastline thrill fishers but can also attract dolphins, seals, sea lions and sharks. Picture: WA Museum

FISHERS and divers and all water users are being warned the autumn salmon run, which is almost here, can attract sharks which may come inshore to feed on the fish.

Schools of salmon are commonly spotted, between early-mid March and late April, along the sheltered bays and rocky headlands of the south and west coasts.

While the annual event is keenly anticipated by recreational fishers who love the thrill of capturing the aerobatic, fast swimming, WA salmon, the schools of fish can also attract bigger predators.

Salmon herd and feed on baitfish close to shore, during their migration, which can in turn attract marine predators such as dolphins, seals, sea lions and a range of shark species, which are known to follow big salmon schools along the coast.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development aquatic resources management director Nathan Harrison said recent years had seen very big schools of WA salmon on the south and west coast and even as far north as Exmouth.

“Before the salmon run gets into full swing along our coast, it’s timely to remind everyone that schools of WA salmon attract a wide range of shark species that may also come inshore to feed on the salmon,” he said.

“For this reason water users should keep away from large schools of salmon.

“Swimmers and surfers are also encouraged to stay aware of their surroundings at all times. “It’s important people keep away from large schools of fish, seals or wildlife acting erratically – and to take a buddy if going swimming, diving or surfing.

“Fishers should also be aware that it’s safer to fish for salmon from the beach, rather than coastal rocks.

“However, if fishers do decide to fish from rock ledges and coastal outcrops they should be aware that unpredictable wave patterns can make rocks slippery.

“Therefore, they need to take additional precautions, including using life jackets and adhering to local warnings.”

For more on fisher safety, see the Recfishwest Fish and Survive website.

Fishers are also encouraged to bleed their catch away from the water’s edge and dispose of all fish waste (including bait and salmon frames) responsibly to ensure beach areas are kept clean and avoid attracting larger marine predators such as sharks, seals and dolphins.

Water users are urged to check SharkSmart’s shark activity map or Surf Life Saving WA’s Twitter, before going into the water.

Report any shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600.

For more on WA salmon and fishing rules visit