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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Sunday 13 October 2013

Milestone for WA's shark alert system

  • Satellite-linked monitors and new technology for WA’s shark detection network
  • New technology provides faster alerts to safety agencies and beach goers
  • Fisheries scientists tag Australian record four metre white shark

Western Australia’s Shark Monitoring Network is now using new technology to provide alerts on 326 tagged sharks - including a four metre white shark recently tagged by Department of Fisheries research scientists.

The mature male is the largest white shark to be internally fitted with an acoustic transmitter tag in Australian waters.

Fisheries Minister Troy Buswell said the shark - measuring four metres from its nose to the tip of its tail - was one of two caught off Albany’s Cheynes Beach in August.

The scientists surgically implanted small acoustic transmitters - or tags - in the sharks’ stomachs in a quick procedure alongside a boat and then released them.

4m tagged great white

Mr Buswell said tagging was just one aspect of the State Government’s shark safety program, which was unlike any other in the world.

The Minister said the monitoring network had this week been expanded with the deployment of two satellite-linked shark monitors near Busselton.  Six more will be added to the network on the south coast during summer.

The network now uses about 320 receivers positioned in the seabed and 20 satellite receivers to monitor tagged sharks - 136 white sharks, 171 whaler sharks and 19 tiger sharks.

Mr Buswell said the monitoring network had been upgraded with new technology able to faster deliver alerts to safety agencies, as well as the public via Surf Life Saving WA’s Twitter feed or website.

The alerts could now be delivered within less than two minutes of a shark being detected by the monitoring network.

“These upgrades mean this summer, response agencies will have even more time to close a beach and alert water users of potential shark hazards, with alerts from receivers being sent faster,” the Minister said.

“We want to notify people as quickly as possible when a tagged shark is detected, so beach goers can make informed decisions when using our beautiful beaches.

“The new satellite-linked monitors extend the network to Busselton, one of WA’s most popular holiday destinations.”

Department of Fisheries principal research scientist, Dr Rory McAuley said acoustic tags provided knowledge on sharks, as well as alerts.

“These detections and WA’s extensive receiver network are contributing to important research to help the Government to better understand the movements of white sharks through WA waters as well as playing a major public safety role,” Dr McAuley said.

“The battery life of internal acoustic tags is up to 10 years so the scientific data that may be collected from this shark is unprecedented.

“Placing acoustic tags internally is now a common and incredibly successful technique that has been in use by Australian and international scientists for more than a decade.”

Mr Buswell said beach goers could find the latest information on any detection alerts from the Shark Monitoring Network, by accessing Surf Life Saving WA’s (SLSWA) Twitter feed 24 hours a day at http://twitter.com/SLSWA or on the SLSWA website at http://www.mybeach.com.au.

This summer, the Government will also embark on a community information campaign around shark hazards, including a dedicated website for shark information and alerts.

Any shark sightings should be reported to Water Police on 9442 8600.

Fact File

  • More than $6million in State Budget 2013-14 for initiatives including patrols, shark tagging and tracking and research projects
  • Maps of WA’s shark monitors are available via http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/shark         
  • The Beachsafe website (http://www.beachsafe.org.au) and smart phone app have details for all 3,494 WA beaches, including patrol info (where applicable), hazards, warnings, weather information, shark sightings, rescue stats, beach information and more
  • The mature male shark measured 3.61m (fork length) and 4m from nose to tip of its tail

Minister's office - 6552 6400

Last modified: 14/10/2013 2:45 PM

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