Screens Monday 8 February at 8.30pm on ABC
Shark Alarm: What's behind the rise in shark attacks and is there anything we can do to stop them?
Shark attacks are turning our beaches into places of fear.
'It's the thought of (being) eaten alive while you're still alive." Dave Pearson, shark attack survivor and founder of Bite Club
On the beaches around Ballina, on the north coast of NSW, that fear is palpable. With nine attacks, one of them fatal, in the last 12 months, people are asking why and demanding action.
'The feeling is, we've got to be on red alert to ensure that the guys that are in the water are gonna be safe." Don Munro, President, Le-Ba Boardriders
'It's certainly changed things for me. I wouldn't swim in it and I certainly wouldn't surf, no way, no." Mark Puglisi, Ballina lifesaver
Four Corners investigates why these sudden spikes occur.
'You can have areas where there are a lot of sharks and no attacks, you can have areas where there are very few sharks and attacks." Barry Bruce, CSIRO white shark expert
Filmed around Australia, Shark Alarm features extraordinary tales of survival.
'He tried to close his mouth but he couldn't and those teeth, all those teeth are like the gates of hell, I'll tell you mate they're unbelievable." Craig Ison, NSW shark attack survivor
Millions of dollars have been outlaid by state governments in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia on prevention and protection measures, but is it money well spent?
'In my opinion if taking five or ten of them out of the water saves someone from losing a hand, let alone losing their life, it's worth it ten times over." Ryan Soulis, WA shark attack survivor
Environmental activists point to the high price paid by other marine life in the quest to make the ocean safe.
'It's not just sharks that are dying in these, this is a marine cull as far as I'm concerned." Natalie Banks, Sea Shepherd Australia
And there's intense debate over whether these anti-shark measures actually work.
'There's still this misconception that the shark net is a barrier." Barry Bruce, CSIRO white shark expert
'I do not believe that anyone can scientifically argue that they haven't worked." Vic Peddemors, Senior Research Scientist, Fisheries NSW
SHARK ALARM, reported by Geoff Thompson and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 8th February at 8.30pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 9th February at 10.00am and Wednesday 10th at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.