Hi, gr8 white here – strvng. Cn we mt 4 lunch? C U l8er

Australian scientists develop revolutionary tracking system that texts the authorities whenever a killer shark nears the beach

It is probably the most feared creature in the ocean, immortalised in the 1970s horror movie Jaws. Now Australian scientists are using pioneering technology to fight the great white shark, electronically tagging 100 of the man-eating predators and alerting swimmers whenever they approach Perth beaches.

In a world first, the West Australian Department of Fisheries is installing 20 satellite receivers along the Perth coastline which will send a signal whenever a tagged shark comes within 500 metres. A couple of minutes later, an email or SMS will be sent to government departments, scientists, wildlife officials and lifeguards.

The technology is not new, but has never been used for "real-time" tracking of sharks, according to the department's senior research scientist, Rory McAuley. He said yesterday that a two-year study would analyse the movements and migration patterns of great whites – or white pointers, as they are also known – along the coast.

More than 70 sharks have already been tagged, with researchers shooting or stabbing the devices into the creatures' flanks when they pause to feed on whale carcasses. The acoustic receivers, which are being installed on the seabed near popular beaches, will all be in place by February.

The news may reassure Perth residents, for whom sharks are an ever-present threat. Nine years ago, a man was killed by a white pointer in waist-deep water off Cottesloe Beach, one of the city's favourite coastal haunts. Since then, there have been a dozen shark attacks in Western Australia, two of them fatal. Earlier this year, an annual open-water race off Cottesloe was cancelled after a series of shark sightings in the area.

Dr McAuley said he hoped the data amassed during the A$400,000 (£224,500) study would provide insights into the movements of great whites and improve understanding of the risk of attacks. While it was primarily a research project, he said, the information – which will be beamed to a satellite by the receivers – would also be used to detect sharks and warn swimmers.

"The information we are hoping to collect will hopefully help us to answer questions such as how long white sharks spend off our beaches, whether they come back, is there a season, do they come back one year after the other?" Dr McAuley added: "We have put the receivers out the front of surf lifesaving clubs, because... if we are able to implement a response, that is where it is most likely to happen."

The state government already has a Shark Incident Emergency Response Plan, which is implemented when sharks are spotted off beaches.

Since three of the monitoring stations were installed earlier this year, sharks have been detected in Perth waters on four occasions, most recently in September. Dr McAuley said it was too early to draw useful conclusions about the predators' habits.

He believes the government-funded study may make locals more relaxed about bathing off the city's beaches. "I think the public's fear of sharks stems largely from a fear of the unknown," he said, adding that anything that helps clarify the real risk of people encountering sharks at the beach will "hopefully alleviate people's concerns."

In the past, the receiver had to be taken to shore for tracking information to be downloaded. "Technology that delivers real-time notifications of tag detections hasn't been used in an operational sense anywhere else in the world," he added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?