Western Australia implements Internet shark tracker

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Western Australia implements Internet shark tracker

November 14, 2014 - 23:17
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Sharksmart website shows where sharks are seen off WA coast.

In a world-first, the public is getting the opportunity to assist monitoring shark movements off the Western Australia coast in a bid to reduce the number of attacks. The Department of Fisheries has updated its Sharksmart website, which will digitally map all reported shark sightings from the public, surf lifesavers and other agencies.” We want to give beachgoers the latest information so they can make informed decisions about their water use," said Lisa Clack, manager of the department's shark response unit.

Previously, the website only plotted the movements of tagged sharks, but now includes shark sightings in the river and whale carcasses. Within 90 seconds of a shark sighting being reported to water police, the exact time, location, species (if known) and size will be uploaded to the website.

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A tweet from Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) would be simultaneously generated with the same information and a text message sent to relevant authorities to decide whether the beach should be closed. According to Chris Peck from SLSWA, warnings could be generated seven to 10 minutes faster than in the past. "People can't say that I didn't have the information sooner," he said. "It's now their responsibility to make sure they check in regularly."

Developed at a cost of $370,000 over a span of 18 months, the mobile and tablet-compatible website updates automatically. Premier Colin Barnett said it is "another tool which allows people, in a sense, to be empowered and make their own decisions about going to the beach".

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