Shark attacks are, one would imagine, seldom a nice thing. Thankfully they don’t happen all that often off of the coast of Britain, but warmer climes are frequently beset by sharp toothed visitors. Whilst popular culture would suggest the best antidote would be a bigger gun (or at least a bigger boat), authorities in Australia have taken a modern approach to bather safety.
The nonprofit group Surf Life Saving Western Australia have attached tracking devices to known local sharks. The devices are designed to send out a warning message via Twitter whenever they come within a certain distance of the beach.
The organisation has teamed up with the Department of Fisheries to piggy back on the existing Shark Monitoring Network. It’s been traditionally difficult to monitor shark movements because of the speed with which they move. The project is hoping to improve that however by tasking local shark cage tourism groups to tag the sharks they attract with small acoustic transmitters, whilst also logging data around the size, location and so on of the shark.
There will then be a network of receivers located in the sea surrounding Western Australia that will detect the signals given off by the transmitters when sharks are in the vicinity. This data will then be sent directly, both to lifeguards on shore and to residents and bathers via Twitter.
Of course, there are also scientific benefits from this, as researchers will be able to track and monitor the migration routes of the creatures, thus gaining a better understanding of shark behaviours. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating way for science and social media to intermingle. You just have to hope that you can get a WiFi connection at the beach.Original post