Shark Transmitters Warn Beachgoers of Danger

Friday, 27 Dec 2013 10:07 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Jaws alert! Sharks are sending Twitter messages to warn surfers and swimmers they are close to popular beaches.

The tweets will help people on the Western Australian coastline decide whether it's safe to go in the water - or go back in the water, according to Sky News.

Under the Surf Life Saving WA program, scientists have attached transmitters to more than 320 sharks, including the deadly great whites, that register their movements along the coast.

Whenever a shark swims within half a mile of a beach, it sends out a warning signal that is picked up by computers, which in turn issue messages on the organization's Twitter feed. The tweet will give the approximate size and breed of the shark plus an estimated location.

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Western Australia is the world's deadliest place for shark attacks. Surfer Chris Boyd, 35, died from an attack last month, becoming the sixth person to be killed in the region in just two years.
The program's spokesman, Chris Peck, told Sky News the Twitter alerts are much faster than the standard warnings from newspapers or radio and TV stations.

"You might not have got some of that information until the following day in which case the hazard has long gone and the information might not be relevant," he said. "Now it's instant information and really people don't have an excuse to say we're not getting the information. It's about whether you are searching for it and finding it."

But program officials do not say how people actually in the water without their cell phones are to be alerted.

Fishermen in Western Australia have recently been allowed to kill sharks larger than three meters in populated areas, and bait is put out one kilometer from shore to help catch sharks in the summer.

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