Is it safe to swim at Manly Beach?
Then came a day when I discovered in a most dramatic way that the seas which wash the beaches are tropical waters. Thousands of people were struggling out against the succeeding lines of surf and throwing themselves on to the crests of the big waves, to be carried shorewards with the wash. It was a joyous scene until the deep tones of a bell rang out over the hissing waters.
A thrill of horror passed through the thousands on the beach. Eyes were everywhere strained seawards to the space of water between the red flags, which denoted the area considered safe for bathing and surfing. Almost as soon as the sharp peals of the bell rang out its warning, I looked towards where the waves were black with swimmers. The scene was indescribable. Thousands of men, women and children were swimming and struggling shorewards, a splashing line of heads and arms. The ringing of the bell continued-it was the signal from the lookout that a big shark had been seen coming into the bay.
Although it must be said, in fairness to these delightful ocean beaches of New South Wales, that sharks seldom come sufficiently close inshore to be of real danger to bathers, there is an occasional accident when people disregard the precautions taken for their safety. A young man had recently been terribly injured by one of these creatures while swimming far out after the prohibited hour of six in the evening. Within a few minutes of the warning signal there was not a single person left in the wide stretch of ocean facing this end of Manly Beach.