Animals

Shark sonar option

SHARRA COLLINS

May 26, 2014

New developments in technology announced by a Perth company today could improve the safety of beaches around the world.

‘Clever buoy’ is a research and development programme being carried out by Shark Attack Mitigation Solutions to develop a prototype that could present an alternative to existing shark defence methods.

The technology involves battery powered buoys placed off the coast which detect sharks by measuring their unique sonar signature and then send real-time information to lifeguards via Optus satellites and Google+.

SAMS co director Hamish Jolly said there was a range of technologies available to reduce the risk of shark attacks and this project aimed to contribute to the area of detection.

Curtin University’s Centre for Marine Science & Technology director Christine Erbe, who is conducting her own shark hazard mitigation research, said the SAMS project has its limitations.

“The sonar will find the shark but that does not prevent attack,” Dr Erbe said.

“You would need to find the shark so early that you can sound a siren and get people out of the water or whatever comes next.

“It’s the first step in identifying risk but it certainly will not, on its own, prevent attacks so then you have to do something else.”

Shark defences are a controversial issue in WA, with the recent state government shark cull and drum lines policies drawing strong opposition.

In the long term the ‘clever buoy’ technology is set to be used to capture the sonar signatures of all marine life which could provide a valuable snapshot of the health of the sea.

The research and development programme funded by Optus should be available for commercial use by mid 2015.

Categories: Animals, Environment

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