Clever Buoys not so smart at shark ID
Taxpayers forked out half-a-million dollars for a trial of cuttingedge sonar equipment that was unable to determine whether the objects it detected were sharks.
Amid a review of the trial into the so-called Clever Buoy technology, figures by the State Government show the system detected 37 “possible” sharks off City Beach this summer.
The trial, which cost $500,000 and formed part of the State’s shark mitigation strategy, ran from December until the end of March.
Touted as a world-first technology, Clever Buoy uses sonar and satellite-linked receivers to send alerts to authorities and mobile phones when certain types of objects are detected in the water.
The Department of Fisheries said there had been 37 “public postings of detections” during the 14-week period the Clever Buoy system was deployed.
But the department described the detections only as “possible sharks” because the system was unable to distinguish between different types of marine animals, let alone species of sharks.
The department also acknowledged it was unable to say whether the detections were of 37 different animals or a smaller number of animals being detected multiple times.
Lisa Clack, the manager of the department’s shark response unit, said any decisions about whether to extend the trial or roll out a broader deployment would depend on the findings of the review.
“Work is now under way to review the trial; incorporating operational, technical and environmental aspects,” Ms Clack said.
“Any decisions on future use of the system will depend on a number of factors, including the outcome of the reviews.
“The total cost of the trial, including the current review, has not been yet been finalised.
“It should be noted that while the City Beach Clever Buoy system has been switched off, it will take some time for all the equipment to be removed from the water.
“Detail on the number of detections and effectiveness of the system will be incorporated into the review.”