Using the Internet of Things to Protect Against Shark Attacks

By Rachel Ramsey January 03, 2014

Sharks are easily one of my biggest fears, no thanks to seeing Jaws at a very young age and living by the water my entire life. But I’ve lived on the Long Island Sound for more than 11 years; the last shark attack here was 52 years ago. This fear would probably be more justified if I lived in Australia -- there have been 207 unprovoked shark attacks in Australia over the last 20 years, and 124 of those occurred in the last 10 years, according to John West, curator of the Australian Shark Attack File at Taronga Zoo, Sydney. 

In the past 12 months in Western Australia alone, there were eight recorded shark attacks, seven of them from great whites. This is almost double the average for the region of 4.4 attacks each year over the past decade. Researchers believe the number of beachgoers entering the water has something to do with the increase in attacks, but they aren’t sure why else the number is rising in such a short period of time.

Image via Wired

Now, with the power of Twitter and the Internet of Things (IoT), sharks swimming within a certain distance of the shore will trigger an alert. In Western Australia, more than 320 sharks (tiger, great white and whaler sharks) have been electronically tagged so that when they swim within a certain distance of some popular beaches, a tweet is automatically generated from the Surf Life Saving Western Australia (SLSWA) Twitter account to inform beach-goers of shark location, breed and time of sighting.

The sharks are tagged with acoustic transmitters, which emit a unique signal that can be recognized by another piece of equipment called an acoustic receiver. These acoustic receivers, or “listening stations,” sit on the ocean floor and can detect when a tagged shark is 300 to 400 meters away. The battery life of the internal acoustic tags can be up to 10 years, so not only does this benefit lifeguards, surfers and swimmers, it can help gather an immense amount of data for research and science.

The key to the Internet of Things is that it gathers and transmits data in real-time, and that could not be more appropriate for the shark attack situation in Western Australia. Nobody wants to know the day after that a shark was in the area – they want to know now, so they can do everything they can to ensure safety as efficiently as possible. This is why companies from all industries are interested in the IoT and machine to machine (M2M) technology; they may not use real-time information on shark locations, but they can use it to track their fleets, assets, equipment and employee performance and production lines

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

Content Director

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