Real-time alerts to be sent when tagged white sharks approach Perth beaches

The New Zealand Herald is reporting that the West Australian Department of Fisheries is in the process of installing 20 acoustic receivers along the coast of Perth, Australia which will output a signal any time a tagged great white shark travels within 500m of one of the receivers. After a white shark is detected by a receiver, an alert will be sent either via email or text message to notify government and wildlife officials about the shark’s presence. Lifeguards and scientists will also be contacted through this alert system.

Tagged white sharks will send out an alert when they are within 500m of receivers at West Australia beaches.

A two-year, $400,000 (AUS) study will be performed, using this technology, to track movement of white sharks along the coast of Perth. According to the article, over 70 sharks have already been tagged, and the acoustic receivers will all be installed by February in the seabed around popular beaches. The goal of the program is to better understand white shark behavior around beaches.

The New Zealand Herald loses points for opening the story with a Jaws reference and referring to 100 sharks as being “man-eating.” Other than first paragraph, the story remains fairly objective, though.

3 comments

  1. Jeremy W. says:

    Although I understand that this will help reduce the amount of shark attacks, I also wonder if this is going to cause unnecessary panic and media coverage like shark “terror alerts”.

    In addition could revealing the locations of white sharks to the general public cause an audience that would disturb the natural habits of the white sharks or even worse give that trophy hunter the extra info he needs to land a big white.

    Just my few thoughts on this great but potentially double edged technology.

    • TheDorsalFin says:

      I think that unnecessary panic is a likely possibility. As far as causing an audience that would disturb natural habitats, I don’t see a big issue with that, though. The receivers are being installed in areas where people already frequent. As for the trophy hunters, white sharks are protected in Australian waters, and if these alerts are drawing attention to environmental and government officials, I doubt an illegal poacher is going to show up in an area garnering that kind of attention.

      I’m not convinced that this measure will necessarily reduce the number of shark attacks, but it will at least provide some data about how often the tagged sharks venture around populated beaches in the area. I have always wondered how often white sharks pass by bathers unnoticed. It will be interesting to see the results of this study.

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