Engineers Use Sonar System to Detect Sharks

Shelby Rogers

A team of Australian researchers want to keep both humans and sharks safe with new technology.

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the NSW Government will work together and analyze a new system. The 'Clever Buoy' system uses sonar to track sharks. The sonar detects shark-sized objects moving with 'sharklike' behavior. If it detects a shark, the system alerts surrounding lifeguards to help clear the water faster than if they simply had a visual cue.

shark1[Image Source: Pixabay]

The entire program could be the next step in Australia's $16 million Shark Management Strategy. Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said the new system could be a crucial technological step:

“The NSW Government’s Shark Management Strategy is a scientifically-driven program integrating some of the world’s most advanced shark mitigation techniques.

“In conjunction with increased aerial surveillance, drone surveillance, shark tagging and detection, and the SharkSmart app, the Clever Buoy technology can help us manage and mitigate the risk of shark bites on the NSW coast.”

This also takes the burden off lifeguards to watch for dorsal fins. While dolphins have much rounder dorsal fins than a shark's super pointed one, it can still be difficult to differentiate at a distance.

Currently, the Clever Buoy is halfway done with its six-week testing and trial period. The research will also be used in combination with a previous six-week trial earlier this year.

"In testing it has been identified that sharks create a distinctive sonar signature and swimming pattern that is different to mammals." the Shark Mitigation Systems said on its website.

shark2[Image Source: Pixabay]

Blair said the results will obviously vary from beach to beach. However, he predicts the trial's success could mean to improved safety for the entire country.

“The way Clever Buoys are deployed as part of the Shark Management Strategy will depend in part on the nature of the beach and conditions in each locality,” he said.

“The information gathered from this trial will help us understand how the technology reacts to a given environment, and how we can use it to give NSW beachgoers the best available protection.”

With the sensationalized popularity of events like Shark Week, the myth still gets perpetuated that all sharks are ravenous killers. However, only about a dozen of the roughly 500 shark species can be classified as dangerous to humans. White, tiger and bull sharks account for nearly half of all shark attacks.

In 2015, Australia's Taronga Conservation society reported 33 cases of shark attacks. Of that, 22 were unprovoked and 11 were classified as provoked. Two cases led to fatalities.

However, the biggest problem remains is the human interactions with sharks for hunting and illegal poaching. In 2013, National Geographic reported over 100 million sharks get killed each year for various reasons. That constitutes roughly 7.3 percent of the entire shark population. The Clever Buoy system could help researchers keep tabs on these sharks for their safety as well as the general public's.

SEE ALSO: Scientists develop a glow that allows you to feel what is deep down in the water

Via University of Technology Sydney

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