Track sharks with app to make surf safer

TAGGED: Captain Brett McBride tagging mature tiger shark Jedda off the Fraser Island coast. PHOTO: OCEARCH
TAGGED: Captain Brett McBride tagging mature tiger shark Jedda off the Fraser Island coast. PHOTO: OCEARCH OCEARCH

THIS shark, Jedda, will hopefully be the first of many tiger sharks made traceable by a team of nine researchers on board a one of a kind research vessel MV Ocearch.

The non-profit organisation Ocearch is behind the project and said one of their main aims was to create safer beaches by allowing beachgoers to see the current whereabouts of sharks in their area.

James Cook University's Dr Adam Barnett described the project as a great opportunity to find out where the sharks are spending their time.

"We have the chance to tag more tiger sharks with satellite technology over a period of a few weeks than our team has in the past 14 years in Queensland waters," Dr Barnett said.

Aside from giving Australians access to the sharks' locations in near-real time, Dr Barnett said this new technology would help scientists access data that they couldn't get until now.

"Having hands-on, safe access to live mature tiger sharks will be a significant boost to research, allowing us to conduct projects that aren't doable in the water, providing data we could never have dreamed of achieving," Dr Barnett said.

According to Ocearch, the ship has a lifting platform that reduces the stress levels of the sharks compared with being caught using other methods.

Expedition leader Chris Fischer said the new data may help ensure the sustainability of the often-feared creature.

Mr Fischer said the data collected from similar expeditions in the past has influenced policies in other countries, creating better outcomes for both sharks and people.

"The new data will help provide Australia with a better understanding of when, how and why tiger sharks forage, particularly near public beaches," Mr Fischer said.

"This project is about delivering previously unattainable data to public safety officials and conservation managers.

It's our goal to create the most inclusive open sourced shark project with the Australian people."

After the tagging and studies of the sharks around the Fraser Coast area are finished, the team will head north to Mackay and Cairns.

Topics:  outdoor-living sharks surfing technology

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