Prior to coming to Australia, I was aware of all the dangerous animals here. However, when I got here I was surprised to learn that most deaths in Australia actually occur in the ocean.
In each orientation and in my Introduction to Sydney Environment course, I was made aware of all the water safety rules and different fun facts associated with Australian beaches. Most deaths in Australia occur from swimming in the ocean. Due to the rough rip tides, people, especially tourists, often do not know how to properly get out of them and they panic, leading to drownings. One of the most important lessons I learned through my course was that white water is the safest water. This is where the waves curl and crash the shore, therefore, there’s no chance of a rip pulling you out into the water. Also, in order to successfully get out of a rip current, you often just have to go with the tide and not panic because eventually it will bring you back to a sand dune.
A lot of people come to Australia specifically for the beaches. There happens to be 3 different types of beaches; reflective, intermediate, and dissipative beaches. In Sydney, intermediate beaches are most commonly found, and they happen to be one of the dangerous ones because they contain bars and rips. A lot of studies have been done to show how different rips flow in order to safely train people to be able to get out of them. Below is a video my professor provided about rips and water safety:
Another interesting fact about Australian beaches is that there has been a lot of human modification. Since there has been a lot of erosion and flooding, houses need to be placed further away from the shores. There has also been the removal of sand dunes in order to give space to people who want to sit on the beaches.
Initially, when beaches started to develop and people started swimming in the waters, there were a lot of shark attacks. Although sharks are still very prevalent in many parts of Australia, they have developed shark nets further out in the water. These nets spread across the ocean floors to prevent sharks from swimming close to shore, where they can potentially harm swimmers or surfers.
Surfing is an essential part of the Australian lifestyle and culture. Many Australian beaches are high energy and create massive waves that curl nicely to surf on. I plan on taking some surf lessons, so understanding the water safety rules is important.