Following a recent shark attack on NSW’s Light House Beach, once again, the discussion about culling has resurfaced. Across all media outlets, the discussion has always reached 2 conclusions: cull or don’t go in the water. However, there are so many alternatives which allow for a safe coexistence between people and sharks, which are effective and sustainable.
The Clever Buoy uses new sonar technology to detect sharks that are 2m or longer in coastal waters. When the Clever Buoy detects a shark, it sends an alert using Google+ circles via the Optus Network. The buoy has inbuilt differentiation systems to determine the object as a shark, rather than another mammal like a dolphin or whale. When a shark is detected, a message is immediately sent to lifeguards, who can then act accordingly.
The buoy has already been successfully trialled at Bondi Beach and successfully detected a number of sharks. Plans are now underway to implement the Clever Buoy along the NSW coast, at popular shark spots like Ballina and Lighthouse Beach.
Future iterations of the Clever Buoy could potentially identify acoustic signatures, anatomical characteristics such as jaw size and lungs, as well as swimming patterns to continually develop more sophisticated detection algorithms.
Surveillance: Aerial spotting of sharks with helicopters, light planes and drones in conjunction with other methods listed here also ensure that sharks are noticed and lifeguards can act accordingly.
Tag and tow:
The idea has already been trialled in Brazil, where it reduced shark incidents by 97% with minimal environmental impact.
Studies have revealed that large species such as tiger sharks resume their migration patterns after being released offshore, and do not return to the areas where they were initially caught.
Research on great white sharks shows that some individuals tagged off South Australia migrate along the WA coast, stopping in areas of abundant food for short periods (days to weeks), before resuming their migration to more remote areas.
“A more comprehensive tagging and monitoring program will help us understand the movements of these transient animals, allowing us to work out when and where they are most likely to be found, and the environmental factors that drive these patterns.” – The Conversation
The tag and tow method not only ensures that large and dangerous sharks are moved kilometres off shore, but also allows scientists to track their movements following the tow. This means that they will be alerted if the shark moves closer to shore again, and also helps with the research of shark behaviour and migration patterns in general.
Above image: The Conversation
Eco Shark Barriers:
Eco Shark Barriers are barriers made from strong, flexible Nylon, which enable there to be completely enclosed swimming areas from seabed to surface, shoreline to shoreline. The barriers keep sharks completely out of swimming areas, does not trap any marine life, and are able to be implemented at very low government and tax-payer costs. The barrier is also 100% recyclable at the end of its life. The barriers last for up to 10 years and have proven to be successful in trials. The trial of an Eco Shark Barrier at Coogee Beach in Western Australia from December 2013 – April 2014 saw the barriers perform extremely well. “There were no swimmer injuries, no marine life entrapment, no erosion, no seaweed build up and no issues with boats or other watercraft…the barrier received strong public support – 94% of 500 survey respondents said the barrier provided them with a safe swimming area and reduced the risk of a shark encounter” (Eco Shark Barrier, 2016)
These methods in combination with swimmers and surfers ensuring they personally put measures in place to reduce their likelihood means that the chances of an attack would lower significantly. This includes using technology like the Shark Shield.
Feature photo: @adesignersmind