Innovation That Matters

Eco-conscious buoy alerts beachgoers to riptides

Work & Lifestyle

Clever GIRL buoy detects fast-moving riptides, which power a turbine that activates a strobe light to alert beach users to the presence of the deadly currents.

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While we’ve covered innovations aimed at reducing shark deaths, whether it’s having sharks tweet their presence or by designing kit that repels attacks, most beach-related deaths in fact involve hard-to-detect fast moving currents called riptides. An Australian startup has found a way to reduce the risks.

The Clever GIRL (Global Intelligent Rip Locator) is a floating buoy designed to alert beachgoers to the presence of riptides. The buoy converts the power of the fast moving currents into kinetic energy — the water itself drives a turbine that, once there’s a fast enough flow of water to be considered a rip, activates a strobe light (with plans for an additional audible alarm). The creator suggests this will not only save lives by directly alerting those in the ocean, but also by allowing lifeguards to focus on keeping watch over people, rather than trying the difficult task of detecting dangerous currents. The floating device was invented by Australian teenager Maddison King as a project for her Grade 12 Design and Technology class, after realising that many children couldn’t detect rip currents. Maddison who works part-time as a life guard, has recently won a Young Scientist Award.

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Clever GIRL has an environmentally conscious design, utilizing eco-friendly lubricant for the turbine and featuring a black and white striped underside, which, according to research by Shark Attack Mitigation Systems, is less appealing to sharks, protecting humans without compromising the safety of local animals. Also conscious of human interference, the buoy’s design makes it difficult to pick up or climb on and features a housing for the turbine to prevent lacerations. Clever GIRL is a not-for-profit organisation, hoping it’s buoy will be used globally to reduce riptide-related deaths.

We’ve also seen a crowdsourced jellyfish alert app — what other beach-related hazards could be prevented with technology?




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