Shark attacks: New anti-shark tech could make drumlines a thing of the past on Australian beaches
WATCH VIDEO ABOVE: Australian company is trying to make shark nets obsolete
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Shark Shield technology has been used by surfers and divers in personal devices for nearly 20 years. But now the three-dimensional electric fields that work by targeting receptors in the snouts of sharks are being used in larger barriers capable of protecting entire beaches.
Sharks will begin to experience muscle spasms within a few feet of the electronic field, causing a high level of discomfort to the animal without harming it.
These receptors are found in sharks but are not shared by dolphins, whales, fish or turtles, so they will not be impacted by the electric field, unlike traditional repellents such as nets.
“Think of it like an underwater electric fence,” said Lindsay Lyon, CEO of Ocean Guardian. Sunrise.
The electrodes hang from the buoys to create a floating curtain largely unaffected by heavy seas, tides and winds.
The Western Australian government is already backing the technology, offering $200 consumer rebates to residents who want to buy personal devices to stay safe in the water.
The company’s first full-scale barrier has just been installed in the Bahamas, but Lyon says there are already plans to install the first electric shark deterrent in Australian waters.
“We have already accepted a tender from the Government of Western Australia to install one of the barriers there,” Lyon told Sunrise.
“The one in the Bahamas (was installed) in August, it’s 365m, in a private compound.”
“WA already has a few places where they have plastic mesh systems in place already: Coogee, Sorrento, Cottesloe, Albany, and I think there might be one in Esperance.
“So we’re looking to replace one of those with our new electric shark barrier.”
An environmental future
Former world surfing champion Tom Carroll, who sees traditional deterrents such as SMART battery lines deployed every day on his local break on Avalon Beach, said: “We want to move away from using fillets”.
“Basically because we’re catching other marine species, sometimes at an alarming rate.”
Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson launched a parliamentary inquiry in 2017 into Australia’s shark mitigation and deterrent measures, and specifically the use of mesh netting in New South Wales and Queensland.
He said the federal government has not responded to the findings of the investigation and federal and state governments continue to spend millions of dollars each year on the traditional measures.
Whish-Wilson also said depleted fisheries and loss of marine biodiversity could lead to more shark encounters.
Leonardo Guida, a shark scientist with the Australian Marine Conservation Society, also said Australia was using outdated shark deterrents.
“We wouldn’t accept 50-year-old safety standards in our homes, schools and workplaces, so why should the beach be any different?” Guida said.
– With PAA