RED and yellow flags have been pulled out of the sand at Shoalhaven beaches as volunteer surf lifesavers hang up their swimmers for the season.
The end of the extended Easter and Anzac Day holiday break marked the last day of surf patrols by all volunteer lifesavers, and some paid lifeguards, for the 2013-14 season.
Overall reports show a drop in the number of drownings.
Surf Life Saving NSW said the season had been busy, with 4644 rescues performed since June last year.
There have been 23 drownings since June, down from the previous season’s 48 drownings across the state.
Across the nine clubs that cover South Coast beaches there were 59 rescues, a number Surf Lifesaving South Coast president Steve Jones considered quite low.
“In the past we’ve had up to 200 rescues in a season,” Mr Jones said.
“That reduction says to me people are swimming between the flags.”
Throughout the season there were 111 first aid calls, one fractured limb, three marine stings which required an ambulance, one major wound, two resuscitations and one spinal injury.
The clubs provided 1851 preventative actions, took part in two major searches and sounded one shark alarm.
Surf Life Saving NSW lifesaving manager Andy Kent, said this year’s numbers were pleasing and partially attributed them to the relatively high number of days on which lifesavers closed beaches because of dangerous surf, as well as beachgoers taking heed of the safety messages.
“Hopefully, it’s because our messages are getting through and the public have been taking care of themselves, staying between the flags at patrolled beaches and being prepared before they venture off to the beach or on to rock platforms,” he said.
Mr Kent said there had been three shark attacks in NSW.
“There’s been a lot of media focus on shark attacks this year, but still the likelihood of attacks is very rare and more people drown from being in rips and on rock shelves or in boating incidents than they do being attacked by sharks,” he said.
Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash acknowledged the effort of the Mollymook community and businesses for funding extra days at the end of the season.
“It’s been a busy season and I want to thank those concerned,” she said.
“Thank you to the business houses of Mollymook who pitched in to help keep lifeguards there for a number of extra days.
“That is something we will have to look into for future seasons.”