There's a great, bloody shark war going on in Western Australia right now. After six deaths in two years—making Western Australia the deadliest place on earth for shark attacks—the state has ratcheted up its side of the war by deciding to kill sharks. Lots of 'em. Any shark within one kilometre of the beach will be trapped and shot according to their controversial cull strategy. Remember, humans can be a vengeful species.
But there's another idea, one that is a good deal less bloody: Track the location of Great Whites and tell people which beaches to avoid in real time. So Twitter, of course.
Scientists in Australia have tagged some 320 sharks to their locations and triggers an alert whenever they near a beach. The shark's position, as well as size and species, is then shared over Surf Life Saving Western Australia's (SLSWA) Twitter feed—faster than a radio or newspaper report.
Fisheries advise: tagged Tiger shark detected at Ocean Reef receiver at 02:16:00 AM on 28-Dec-2013
— Surf Life Saving WA (@SLSWA) December 27, 2013
At the same time the tracking can prevent unnecessary human shark interactions, it's also collecting useful data about shark movements—a much better proposition for marine biologists, who have come out strong against the shark cull.
We can continue to think about shark attacks as a problem of sharks encroaching on human beaches. Or we can accept it's humans who are stepping into the sharks' native waters. One scenario might end better, for both species, than the other. [Sky News]
Photo via davidpstephens/Shutterstock