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Sensors to save NSW swimmers from sharks

Sensor-based listening stations that monitor the movement of sharks will be installed along the NSW coastline to prevent shark attacks this summer.

The devices are able to detect a tagged shark when it swims within 500 metres of the sensor, which is attached to a buoy. An alert is then sent to a base station over the 4G network, and the message is posted to the NSW Government’s Shark Smart app and Twitter account @NSWSharkSmart.

There are already 10 devices along the NSW north coast between Tweed Heads and Forster. Additional devices will be deployed at Crescent Head, Old Bar, Hawks Nest and Redhead. Devices will also be installed along the South Coast at Kiama, Sussex Inlet, Mollymook, Batemans Bay and Merimbula. Additionally, a device will be installed at famed Sydney beach, Bondi. The deployment of the sensor-based devices will be complete in time for summer.

According to Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries Lands and Water, 29 great white sharks and 88 bull sharks have been tagged thus far.

“Our devices will also pick up any sharks that have been tagged in other waters,” he said.

“We’re also looking at other types of technology that don’t rely solely on tags and use other things like sonar to try and identify those sharks.”

However, Ballina’s mayor David Wright believes that these devices are not enough to prevent shark attacks in NSW. According to the mayor, two surfers were knocked from their boards by a large shark near a device at Sharpes Beach earlier this week.

Wright said that even if the shark had been tagged and was picked up by the device, the surfers may not have received an alert.

“I’ve still been negotiating with DPI (Department of Primary Industry) to get sirens on the headlands [and to] maybe have flashing lights,” he said in a comment to the ABC.

“That would give the surfers an idea that there had been sharks spotted.”

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