Tagged sharks send auto-tweets when swimming too close to shore

Dec 27, 2013
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Tagged sharks send auto-tweets when swimming too close to shore

Shark attacks, while not terribly frequent when viewed in light of how many people visit the beach every day, are a valid concern for beach-goers and have been increasing in recent years. To give surfers and others an edge over the ocean-bound creatures, researchers tagged 300 or so sharks with transmitters. Similarly situated are receivers for the transmitters under the water that keep an eye on where the sharks are and send out tweets when they get too close.

Specifically, when a shark comes within a kilometer of the shore line in various spots in Western Australia, the receivers will detect the sharks fitted with transmitters and will send out a tweet under the @SLSWA Twitter account -- Surf Life Saving WA. Those who follow the Twitter account will then be able to see when a shark is nearby, as well what kind of shark it is and the time it was detected.

One tweet, for example, sent not too long ago shows a Tiger shark detected at the Mullaloo South receiver around 3AM. If shark activity seems too high in one area, but another section of the beach hasn't seen any activity for a while, beach goers are able to make a better decision about where it is potentially safer to swim or surf -- a method that is near instant, rather than posted warnings and other manual means of advisement.

Said the SLSWA rep Chris Peck: "You might not have got some of that [sharks in vacinity] information until the following day in which case the hazard has long gone and the information might not be relevant." Not surprisingly, the tagged sharks are also being used to gather data concerning patterns of shark movement, potentially leading to additional uses farther on down the road.

SOURCE: ars technica


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