Surf Life Saving Western Australia is attaching trackers to local sharks, which send out a warning tweet whenever they come into close proximity with the beach.
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Shark attacks in Australia are still a worry for beachgoers, especially following the recent deaths of surfer Chris Boyd in November and bodyboarder Zac Young shortly after. In the past, we’ve seen innovators in the country develop swimsuits that alledgedly deter shark attacks, but now beach safety nonprofit Surf Life Saving Western Australia is attaching trackers to local sharks, which send out a warning tweet whenever they come into close proximity with the beach.
Teaming up with the Department of Fisheries for Western Australia, the charity is harnessing the existing Shark Monitoring Network to help locate white sharks. the species migrates long distances in short spaces of time, making it hard to know when they might be near to the coast. Trained shark cage tourism operators, who lure in the animals with berley to give spectators a closer look, are being tasked with tagging the animals with small acoustic transmitters while they’re present, as well as logging their size, species and location. The signals given off by these devices can then be picked up by receivers located in the seas surrounding Western Australia beaches. The data is then delivered almost instantly to both life guards and residents through the medium of Twitter. Citizens can keep up-to-date with shark locations by following @SLSWA.
Rather than leaning on expensive helicopter surveillance and potentially unreliable human sightings, the system instead gets the sharks to simply announce themselves before they get too close to the beach. It will also help scientists to better understand the migration routines of the animals. Are there other species that could be tracked through the social network platform?