Massive schools of salmon have been photographed in the stunning South West waters as authorities warned about an increase in shark activity during the annual salmon run this Easter break.
Marine scientist and photographer Matt Kleczkowski’s drone captured western Australian salmon in waters in Yallingup during the species’ annual migration along our State’s coast.
The species lives on the south coast near Esperance and Albany for most of the year but then coalesce into large schools the size of football fields in autumn and migrate towards the South West where they are thought to spawn between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin.
Mr Kleczkowski was searching for big schools to dive with but couldn’t resist getting amongst the action and managed to catch and release one.
“Personally my dreams revolve around diving with these huge schools of fish to honour what they get up to with photography,” he said.
Fishing-keen families are expected to enjoy a south coast getaway this Easter and during school holidays but have been urged to take care on rocks and be aware of sharks chasing prey.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s acting shark response unit manager Michael Burke said fishers could play their part helping to keep all water users safe.
“It’s safer to feel the sand between your toes when you are fishing for western Australian salmon and avoid the risks that come with rock fishing. However, it’s important to think of other beach users and ‘bleed’ your catch away from the water’s edge and dispose of all fish waste (including bait and frames) responsibly to avoid attracting larger marine predators,” he said.
DPIRD, in collaboration with Recfishwest and the Bureau of Meteorology, has also issued two new alerts for rock fishers.
Red and orange alerts—meaning extremely hazardous and hazardous respectfully—will be broadcast via social media channels when there are high-risk conditions.
Recfishwest safety officer Sam Russell said it was pleasing no major rock fishing incidents had been reported since the beginning of the salmon run.
“With all of the salmon season safety initiatives in place and our extensive reach in the WA fishing community, in combination with our loan life jacket and angel ring programs, we encourage fishers to make the right choices and look out for each other this autumn,” he said.
“There’s been some great salmon run fishing so far this autumn and while most of the catches have been reported from the south coast throughout March, there have been growing numbers of salmon schools spotted moving into Hamelin Bay and Boranup over the past week, indicating the schools will soon move towards Cape Naturaliste and the South-West regions in coming weeks.
“Many fishers are tipping the salmon schools will potentially reach the Perth metro region, due to a slightly weaker Leeuwin Current that will see the annual run extend up the west coast.”
DPIRD is finalising the latest resource assessment report for this popular nearshore fish with preliminary indications that stocks in WA are in good shape and are being fished sustainably.
How far north the western Australian salmon get in their run along our west coast this year will depend on the strengths of the Leeuwin Current and the Capes Current and subsequent water temperatures.
If a shark is spotted people should contact Water Police on 9442 8600 to help alert other beachgoers.
If a Surf Life Saving WA helicopter is circling and sounding its siren above a beach, people should leave the water immediately, check the SharkSmart WA app or , and are advised not to return to the water for at least an hour.