Does Manly Beach, Australia Have Sharks? (Types, Photos & Attacks Explained)

Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia is one of Australia’s – and the world’s – most famous surfing beaches. Indeed, it’s the home of the annual Australian Open of Surfing, and attracts top-tier surfers from all over the world.

But Manly Beach has more to offer than classic waves — it’s also a fantastic vacation destination, with relaxing, tree-lined beaches and beautiful reefs well-worthy of diving and exploring. From luxury resort hotels to classic, laid-back surf culture, Manly Beach has it all — it’s even easy to get to given its proximity to Sydney.

The surrounding areas have endless recreation opportunities, like biking, boating, and simply relaxing on the beach, for everything from a family vacation to a romantic getaway.

But if you are planning such a trip, you might be wondering:

Does Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia have sharks?

Photo by Kim/Flickr

Sharks commonly seen around Manly Beach include:

  • Hammerhead sharks
  • Bull sharks
  • Thresher sharks
  • Great white sharks

However, visitors shouldn’t be alarmed! Manly Beach has only been the sight of 1 fatal shark attack in recorded histories, and encounters are quite rare.

Staying safe from sharks in New South Wales is a valid question given the number of shark species that frequent the region. However, sharks rarely pose a dangerous threat to people, are often misunderstood, and can even offer a fantastic opportunity to learn more about marine animals!

Let’s take a look at the types of sharks at Manly Beach, photos, shark attack history, and more.

Types of Sharks at Manly Beach, Australia

New South Wales, home to Sydney and Manly Beach, is home to many of Australia’s shark species.

The region is close to major continental shelves and ocean currents — meaning that marine ecosystems abound here, along with all their predators and prey.

The region around Manly Beach sees many species of sharks throughout the year, most of which are relatively common around Australia. While the numbers of shark sightings may sound high, it’s extremely rare for any of those to result in an encounter, especially a dangerous one.

On the contrary, the proximity to such abundant marine life creates a wonderful opportunity to study sharks and their behavior.

Here are a few of the sharks that sometimes call the waters near Manly Beach home:

Hammerhead sharks

By Kris Mikael Krister – Imported from 500px (archived version) by the Archive Team, CC BY 3.0

Southern Australia is home to three species of hammerhead sharks: scalloped hammerheads, great hammerheads, and smooth hammerheads.

Each of these have slightly different behaviors, and all of them are fairly large, but none of them pose a significant threat to people unless unreasonably provoked.

In fact, some hammerheads are quite docile and wonderful to swim with!

Done correctly, experiencing hammerheads up close can go a long way to reversing harmful perceptions about sharks and can teach a lot about marine ecosystems.

Bull Sharks

Albert kok – Own work, Public Domain

Bull sharks are the most common aggressive shark near Manly Beach.

Indeed, they earn this title in most places around the world – most coastal areas are home to at least one species of bull shark, and all of them have a notably short fuse and a huge bite force.

They average around 8 feet long, with white bellies and gray topsides. Bull sharks tend to increase in numbers with warmer water temperatures during the hot summer and autumn months, especially in coastal waters, estuaries, and murky water.

Thresher Sharks

By Thomas Alexander – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Threshers are fairly solitary creatures, and are generally considered harmless to humans (though they can be large enough to approach boats).

In fact, humans are much more of a danger to them than they are to us.

Threshers are one of Australia’s handful of sharks that are environmentally protected, having suffered from overfishing for both sport and commercial value.

They’re also one of only a few shark species in the world that’s known to leap out of the water, using their tails to make turns similar to dolphins.

Great White Sharks

By – Own work, Public Domain

Great white sharks are the oceans greatest predator, and even rank as one of the world’s top predators on land or in the sea.

They’re the largest aggressive shark species (though they get beaten out in size by the massive – and docile – whale shark), with some individuals reaching 20 feet in length.

They have a classic pointed snout, with dark gray fins and white bellies.

While great whites are one of the world’s largest and most apex predators, they’re not more dangerous to humans than other sharks, even small ones (they’re responsible for far fewer bites than bull sharks, for example).

Great whites are elusive, and actually quite shy – even professionals have a hard time finding them! Most sightings and encounters result from being in an area with a lot of their prey or bait – such as a guided great white experience.

They also tend to not come particularly close to shore and prefer open waters.

Shark Attack History and Statistics at Sydney’s Manly Beach

Australia, like other major coastal destinations, has seen its fair share of shark bites and attacks since the country began recording data in 1791.

With its location both along a continental shelf and along major ocean currents, Sydney and New South Wales see a large portion of Australia’s shark encounters, usually a few events each summer.

Manly Beach reports a few shark sightings during the season – it is shark habitat after all – but has seen very few recorded shark attacks. You’re more likely to encounter sharks on a guided trip than while swimming or hanging out by the beach, and Manly Beach has only recorded one fatal shark encounter in history.

Many shark attacks or bites aren’t as a result of an aggressive shark.

In fact, most sharks simply prefer to be left alone, and rarely approach a human unprovoked. Which means that a lot of bites are actually a result of mistaken identity.

While sharks don’t eat people, different environmental conditions can lead one to confuse a human with its normal prey, like a seal or other fish.

However, some species, like great whites, tiger sharks, and bull sharks, are more aggressive than others, and can become dangerous very quickly if provoked.

And as a general rule, any large, hungry animal should be left alone, as it can easily become aggressive if it’s been hunting unsuccessfully for some time.

There are precautions in place, such as netting, at most major beaches like Manly Beach.

It’s also important to follow directions from officials, which are meant to keep people safe (and out of the water if necessary) in the event that a Manly Beach shark has been spotted.

Avoiding Manly Beach Shark Attacks (Tips & Things to Know)

Beyond paying attention to officials and posted notices, there are several things you can keep in mind to maximize safety when vacationing at Manly Beach – or any coastal getaway.

For the most part, most shark species prefer to keep their distance from humans unless given a reason otherwise, so there are a few things to be mindful of to avoid sharks’ attention when enjoying time at the beach, swimming, surfing, or taking part in other recreation along the coast — and to be sure not to draw the attention of anything aggressive.

  1. Avoid swimming far from shore, near drop-offs, or at the mouth of a river, as these areas can be places where sharks hang out.
  2. Don’t swim if you are bleeding – this can attract sharks to the area, especially if there are hungry sharks around looking for food. Even if sharks usually find people unappetizing, the smell of blood can trigger them into thinking there is food nearby.
  3. Avoid dirty or murky water, as it can be difficult to spot shark movement. Plus, sharks are built for this type of habitat, and can see us much better than we can see them.
  4. Don’t bring pets into the water. Excessive splashing or erratic movements can attract predators.
  5. Avoid the water at dawn, dusk, and night. These are times when sharks are more active.
  6. Be mindful of clothing and jewelry — shiny accessories like bracelets and some fabrics can mimic the coloring of fish scales, making the wearer seem like prey.

Wrapping Up

Manly Beach, near Sydney, Australia, is home to a number of shark species. However, given the right care and precautions, Manly Beach Sharks won’t pose a threat to any vacation or beachtime getaway.

Manly Beach is home to some of the world’s best surfing, plus relaxing afternoons, memorable swimming and diving, and unforgettable boating trips.

While sharks call this space home, it’s perfectly safe for you to, too, so long as you follow the necessary precautions.

For more guides, check out:

Hope this helps!