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Western Australian sharks send tweets to swimmers

By

December 31, 2013

Sharks such as great whites may not like being tagged, but it beats being culled (Photo: S...

Sharks such as great whites may not like being tagged, but it beats being culled (Photo: Shutterstock)

More shark attacks occur in Western Australia than almost anyplace else on Earth. In order to help protect swimmers and surfers, the state government relies largely on helicopter-based spotters, plus members of the public who report their own sightings. Now, however, the Department of Fisheries has introduced a new system, in which the toothy fishes announce their own presence via Twitter.

Known as the Shark Monitoring Network, the system utilizes acoustic tags that are attached to the fins of individual sharks, along with buoyed monitoring devices that pick up the signals transmitted by those tags. When a tagged shark swims within range of one of the monitors, its species, size and location is automatically recorded.

That information is transmitted via satellite to a computer, which immediately posts it on Twitter. A tweet made just today reads, "Fisheries advise: tagged Bronze whaler shark detected at Garden Island (north end) receiver at 08:46:00 PM on 31-Dec-2013." By contrast, a fair amount of time can elapse between a sighting being made by a person, and that information being manually written up and shared via more traditional media.

So far the system utilizes 19 satellite-linked monitors, that keep track of 338 tagged sharks – species include great whites, tigers and bulls. Needless to say, there are still plenty of untagged sharks swimming near the beaches of Western Australia, plus the monitors don't cover every square kilometer of coastline. For that reason, the network is intended to augment existing spotting systems, not replace them.

The Department of Fisheries developed the network in partnership with Surf Life Saving Western Australia, which carries the tweets on its Twitter feed.

Source: Western Australia Department of Fisheries via Sky News

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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8 Comments

A waste of time really for many obvious reasons. 1 Even if we are all conected to the net thoese conections could be free or contract based so conectivity at the beech would in real time be an issue. Surfers would need to converse with one another again another gamble thats 2 risky gambles so far taken. 2 Uve spent time an money getting to the beech only to hear theres a shark near your location,so you move and move all day spending time and money before you know it youve wasted the day and money to gamble not being eatin. Gamble 3

Why not reduce the need to gamble as there are more issue with the above technology and replace these with certainties.Or well 99 technology reliability certainties.

1 Combing a new Sunto style watch and ankle braclet into a shark stopper.

While we await 24hr drone coverage on our beechs in the form of drone recovery lifeguards, faster then man and boat as they are arial.and in the form of arial deturent drones which use focus controled sound to send the fish backwards without hurting it of course of some other way ,numberous. We need to take matters in to our own hand.

Anti shark deturents have been around awhile untested unproven unreliable ? Maxium odds have to be carfuly instaled in to todays micro nano tec. A double approch on the wrist or wrists and ankles gives us a safe bubble zone,this sheild area of at least 50 to 30 metres makes certain we never even have to know our fish ^ freinds were even there.

These methods can be doubled up againts all land mamals also,phones are simply not an option,why is this,1 battery always on mode needs to be on because we as humans men and women have lost our tracker abilitys,animals will still always get the jump on 90 percent of humans except those few trained in such techqniues. By targeting animals senses ie the ears as this does the least damage,ie darts bullets spray,etc these are also methods that require calmness under treat of being eaten let alone death so the phycological factor is enormus.

Main test with dummys,in blood scattered waters

This test proves that even when starving and in frezie mode the sharks will not over come the device

All other test focus on reliability ie battery warning mode before swim depth gps lost at sea becon,etc

Test 1 walk into a den of lions proving game over nature watch

Test 2 swim with man eaters again futher proving nessiscary control over nature. I say nessicary due to our inevatble mastery over natrue, we as a speices will control all charchertisc of our world,solar system ,galaxy etc. Control of the food chain in a safe responsable way is step 1 step 2 the weather etc.

Richardf
1st January, 2014 @ 05:49 am PST

Reasonable comments Richardf - Will someone close to him buy a dictionary or enable spellcheck for him? I agree that to tag every shark is impractical, but every little helps. A phone app linked to a sighting database would be as good as tweets, so one could call up a map of likely shark locations at any time.

The Skud
1st January, 2014 @ 04:19 pm PST

@Richard,

I accept your argument that there are other ways to deter sharks in a local area but I think you misunderstand the purpose of a program like this and how it came to be.

This program is really just an evolution of shark monitoring activities that have been going on for a long time in efforts to understand the behaviour of sharks and informing people so that they don't take unnecessary risks in areas that are known to have sharks.

It's not as if a pair of surfers were sitting around stoned on the beach saying "Dude, if every shark had a twitter account and told us where it was, then we could go surfing like whenever"

What we do know about sharks is that where you find one, you will generally find another because they are generally attracted to the same locations for feeding or breeding. This program therefore provides valuable information to community awareness of sharks.

To put everything in perspective though the average person in Australia is 100 times more likely to drown from being a poor swimmer, swimming in areas with rips/strong currents or being drunk while swimming than being the victim of a shark. The odds are even greater if you are not a regular surfer. Apologies to anyone who was really unlucky and attacked by a shark - I am arguing from statistics only.

SamB
1st January, 2014 @ 04:59 pm PST

The statement that is that more people are taken by sharks in WA is correct, because WA is more thorough about investigating. Many, many swimmers and divers disappear each year, and are written off to drowning, yet they are more likely to be shark victims since the bodies are not recovered. Had these unfortunate deaths been properly categorized the statistics would show many more shark fatalities than presently recorded.

Further, third world countries don't record most of their fatalities and so are never included in the statistics.

In California the Greenies want sharks to be included as endangered species, claiming that few people are killed by sharks annually, and conveniently ignore the divers and surfers who 'disappear' and are probably taken by sharks.

PB
2nd January, 2014 @ 01:35 pm PST

why tag them, just shoot them. obviously there's too damn many of them.

frogola
2nd January, 2014 @ 04:18 pm PST

All good points taken, my argument is focus on personel secuirty rather then curiosity and investigaton with twittering sharks. Then do the hole conservation thing, and what of the sharks not tag, we know sharks are important for the health of oceans, but we know they can kill,all we need is a seperation buffer, without nets and guns. Even hear in scotland ?

Richardf
3rd January, 2014 @ 06:05 am PST

Sorry to be much clearer i thought lots of money was spent on this sub project of a main stream one ,if not then i cant see a problem, its just spending money could be better used in eraticating the problem once and for all rather then going on with such ideas, as i thought,peacful sepration is the only solution other wise we might as well beging a mass extermination of our oceans now.

The team behind this im just suggesting could have spent this time and money in the development of an always in the air solar survalence drone which would end the problem once and for all with the right torpedo heads of course attached.

By the way my spelling does indeed need more help then the great white shark.lol

Richardf
3rd January, 2014 @ 11:27 am PST

waste them,having said that,they were there first and anyone who goes swimming in their territory must watch soaps and be brain dead..dont go in unless there are sharknets,and they arent shark proof..

Chris Keane
6th January, 2014 @ 01:31 pm PST
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