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Thursday, March 23, 2023

How technology can help prevent shark bites and keep beaches open

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I watched everyone’s favorite summer movie, jaws, again on the weekend. Fortunately, our relationship with sharks is a long way from what we saw in the movie. We put the facts straight and move away from outdated security methods. And the most valuable tool in the prevention of shark bites is technology.

Shark bites are incredibly rare

Incidents of sharks biting humans are rare. According to the International Shark Attack File137 alleged shark bites occurred last year.

Most attacks are related to surfing (51%). Only 11 resulted in death – that is less than a third of US beach drownings so far this year.

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But our approach to shark bites is much more reactive than to preventing drowning.

Shark nets and culls are obsolete

Traditionally, reactions to shark bites have involved a heavy-handed approach to culling, such as using sharknetsThese are sunken walls of net that hang in the water and are aimed at reducing (culling) the shark population.

However, research has shown that only 10% of their catch is sharks as they unfortunately also trap dolphins, whales and turtles.

Nets are no longer used in Cape Town, Florida, New Zealand and Hawaii, but Australia is unfortunately still catching up.

Fortunately, there is now an arsenal of technology to help prevent and reduce the impact of shark bites.

Detect sharks

This week there was a lifeguard in Long Island bitten and died while playing the role of victim during a training exercise in the ocean. In response, beach patrols were deployed drones to patrol local beaches to look for sharks.

shark sonar detection