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Beach usage patterns along the Perth metropolitan coastline during shark surveillance in summer 2003/04

Blackweir, D.G. and Beckley, L.E. (2004) Beach usage patterns along the Perth metropolitan coastline during shark surveillance in summer 2003/04. School of Environmental Science, Murdoch University



During the summer of 2003/04, under the auspices of the Western Australian Department of Fisheries, shark surveillance patrols were flown twice daily along 143 km of Perth metropolitan coastline from Two Rocks Beach in the north to Avalon Beach in the south. A Murdoch University observer flew with the patrol on 106 flights to complete a stratified survey of beach usage that covered all weekend days and two week days each week from November 2003 to January 2004. On each flight, instantaneous counts of beach users engaged in various activities were made over the 43 beaches in the region. Beach activities were classified as swimming, walking, sunbathing, board riding, fishing, surfski / kayaking and kite /wind surfing.

From November 2003 to January 2004, the number of beach users increased each month. There was a significant difference between usage on week days and weekends in November and December but not in January. Maximum counts were attained during the mid-morning flights on 26th December 2003 and 11th January 2004 when, respectively, there were 12 456 and 11 835 people recorded between Two Rocks and Avalon Beaches. Six beaches had consistently high numbers of people, namely, Scarborough, Port, Cottesloe, North Mullaloo, Hillarys and City Beaches.

Sun bathing, swimming and walking were the dominant activities on beaches in the Perth metropolitan region with many people engaged in these activities throughout the study area. Board riding was popular at a limited number of beaches (e.g. Scarborough, Secret Harbour and Trigg) and low numbers of people paddling surf skis / kayaks, wind / kite surfing and fishing were recorded.

Detailed temporal use patterns at hourly resolution from 06:00 to 12:00 were determined for all beaches in the central sector from Hillarys Beach to Port Beach which were flown over more frequently than the northern and southern sectors of the Perth metropolitan coastline. In general, there was a consistent pattern of increasing usage from 06:00 to 12:00, although for some activities, there were specific periods of use. For each northern and southern beach, the proportion of people engaged in the various beach activities on week days and weekends during the summer of 2003/04 was determined.

Publication Type: Report
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Publisher: School of Environmental Science, Murdoch University
Notes: Funding for analysis of the beach usage data and production of this report was provided by the Western Australian Department for Planning and Infrastructure as part of the Perth Coastal Planning Strategy process.
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