Western Australia is going all out to protect its beaches from shark attack.
The trouble is that not all agree with the the attack strategy, placing baited drum lines with enormous hooks off swimming beaches.
Thousands turned out this week to protest the culling of sharks. The message was that we could live with the sharks.
Australia has its share of shark attacks in the world but no more than usual, according to the International Shark Attack File.
The most recent fatality was 35-year-old surfer Chris Boyd who was taken off Gracetown, south of Perth, in November.
Those on the kill side of the argument say shark attacks are on the increase. Those who want to conserve sharks say this is explained by the fact that a lot more people are going to beaches.
Here’s the numbers on sharks attacks since European settlement in Australia (compiled by Taronga Zoo in Sydney):
Western Australia also has a unique satellite-linked network which alerts when tagged sharks approach busy beaches.
When this happens a tweet goes out from The Surf Life Saving WA’s Twitter feed at twitter.com/slswa
Fisheries advise: tagged Tiger shark detected at Leighton receiver at 09:23:00 PM on 4-Jan-2014
— Surf Life Saving WA (@SLSWA) January 4, 2014
Expansion of the satellite-linked network is part of a long-term project to improve safety at Western Australian beaches which will also help scientists better understand the movements of white sharks.
338 sharks have so far been tagged for the Shark Monitoring Network project.
The network has 19 satellite-linked monitors off Perth’s coast, one off Bunbury, another near Meelup in the south west and in Albany’s King George Sound.
More monitors are expected to soon be installed off the South West coast.
Shark Monitoring Network Project Manager, Mark Kleeman, said: “The new monitors at these popular beaches will allow beach users to know if a tagged shark is near the beach with near real-time alerts.
“Along with the satellite-linked monitors, there are approximately 320 seabed monitors located throughout Western Australia that also monitor tagged sharks and each time that data is physically retrieved it will help to establish a much broader snapshot for understanding shark behaviour and movement.”
Of course, non-tagged sharks do slip through like this one caught by camera from a helicopter:
A photo of the 5m shark off Brighton Beach this morning. This photo is taken from the Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter. pic.twitter.com/Hre7JnNEzz
— Surf Life Saving WA (@SLSWA) December 29, 2013
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