At­tacks put shark mon­i­tor­ing in fo­cus

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By LUCY JARVIS

WITH wa­ter safety on the minds of many West Aus­tralians fol­low­ing two fa­tal shark at­tacks, the Fish­eries De­part­ment hopes to raise aware­ness about its re­sponse and alert sys­tems.

Shark re­sponse unit man­ager Lisa Clack said the de­part­ment pro­vided in­for­ma­tion through its com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems to land or beach man­agers.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions con­sider this in­for­ma­tion for their as­sess­ment of whether to close beaches and any ad­di­tional re­sponse that may be nec­es­sary,” she said.

“Fish­eries part­ners with wa­ter safety agen­cies, Wa­ter Po­lice and Surf Life Sav­ing WA (SLSWA) to man­age shark in­for­ma­tion.

“Wa­ter Po­lice com­mu­ni­ca­tion cen­tre is the sin­gle chan­nel for re­port­ing all shark sight­ings from life­guards, agen­cies, or the pub­lic and we urge any­one who has sighted a shark to call the Wa­ter Po­lice on 9442 8600.”

Ms Clack said once Wa­ter Po­lice re­ceived a sight­ing re­port, or if a tagged shark was de­tected on the shark mon­i­tor­ing net­work, the sys­tem mapped and posted in­for­ma­tion in­stantly via three plat­forms: text mes­sages to beach safety agen­cies, the SharkS­mart web­site and the SLSWA twit­ter feed.

“In the case of de­tec­tions on the shark mon­i­tor­ing net­work, th­ese are no­ti­fi­ca­tions from acous­ti­cally tagged sharks,” she said.

“For ex­am­ple, when a tagged shark swims past one of 25 satel­lite-linked receivers, it trig­gers an alert no­ti­fi­ca­tion to those same three plat­forms. All re­ported shark sight­ings and tagged shark de­tec­tions are au­to­mat­i­cally trans­mit­ted in real-time.

“In­for­ma­tion is sent by text to beach man­agers, such as life­guards or rangers, so beaches can be closed or warn­ing signs erected if re­quired.

“(It is) mapped on the SharkS­mart web­site’s shark ac­tiv­ity map, so the pub­lic can vis­ually check for re­cent shark ac­tiv­ity rel­e­vant to their lo­ca­tion to make an in­formed de­ci­sion on their wa­ter use. Tweets are gen­er­ated from SLSWA’s Twit­ter feed, no­ti­fy­ing over 45,000 fol­low­ers of a po­ten­tial shark hazard.”

Cur­rently the met­ro­pol­i­tan shark-mon­i­tor­ing net­work stretches from Warn­bro Sound to Ocean Reef.

“The shark mon­i­tor­ing net­work has been part of an im­por­tant seven year re­search pro­ject on white shark move­ments,” Ms Clack said.

“Even though the re­search work re­quired has been com­pleted, WA will con­tinue to ben­e­fit from the es­tab­lished in­fra­struc­ture of the 25 satel­lite-linked shark de­tec­tion receivers.

“There may be an op­por­tu­nity in the fu­ture to look at the lo­ca­tions of our satel­lite linked receivers; how­ever at the mo­ment there are no plans to ex­tend the net­work,” Ms Clack said.

“The sight­ings el­e­ment of our alert sys­tem is statewide, with over 5500 beach, surf spots and off­shore lo­ca­tions mapped.”

Visit www.sharks­­tiv­ity for more.

See Opin­ion page 8

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