Scientists in Western Australia are using Twitter to alert swimmers when sharks swim within one kilometre of a beach as a means of reducing attacks.
More than 300 sharks have had transmitters attached to them which send information to a computer when a shark swims to close to shore. The computer then sends the information out as an automatically-generated tweet (via Surf Life Saving Western Australia’s account) detailing the shark’s approximate location as well as its size and breed.
Providing real-time information about a shark’s location could help deter swimmers from heading to any beaches where sharks have been located, thereby lowering the risk of an attack. With six fatal shark attacks occurring at beaches in Western Australia since September 2011, the state has become known as the shark attack capital of the world.
The initiative could go a long way towards preventing attacks and, consequently, conserving sharks given it is customary to hunt and kill sharks that have been involved in attacks on humans. However, it is also facing some objection from some corners of the community who believe that publicising a shark’s whereabouts could lead to more shark hunting, an argument which has weight in light of a controversial recently-passed law allowing fishermen to kill sharks over a certain size if found in too-close proximity to beaches.