Australia takes the smart approach to monitor sharks

25 Nov 2015

Sharks – so cool looking, but so life threatening when you encounter one. So, now Australian officials have put their smart hats on and are thinking technologically.

While we, in the west of the Atlantic, are faced with jellyfish, the odd seal and some ray, Down Under you have to deal with far deadlier sea-life.

Put it this way, it’s hard to say ‘there’s a shark in the water’ without putting on a dreadful Australian accent, which explains where most of our shark-based cultural reference points come from.

And now, New South Wales officials are looking to trial ‘smart’ drum lines that alert you when they’ve snagged a shark, letting authorities sail out and release the beasts away from the coast.

This seems far more ideal than standard drums that are searched every few days, resulting in some sharks being stuck there for a while.

The drums rely on GPS buoys and have been trialled fairly successfully off the Reunion Islands.

Drones, but of course

Elsewhere, some shark-tracking drones are due to be tested imminently, as Australia gears up for summer following a number of high-profile shark attacks in recent months.

However, what’s pretty odd about the whole thing, is that previous shark attacks are not the primary driver for these trials, rather the scientific findings that will follow. NSW premier Mike Baird said the government’s approach was based on science, not emotion.

“The experts have told us these are the technologies that have the potential to lead to a long-term solution to keep our beaches safe and minimise the impact on marine life,” said Baird.

“We will continue to take the necessary actions to keep our beaches safe and will continue to be guided by the advice of the experts.”

In total, the project will cost some AU$16m, with helicopter surveillance included, too.

Shark image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic