The NSW Department of Primary Industries has announced five successful grant applications aimed at new technologies to reduce shark interactions, better understanding of shark behaviour and improved shark management programs to increase protection for beachgoers.
The new and innovative projects focus on personal shark deterrent devices – and assessing their effectiveness – as well as investigating ‘shark-cam’ technology and the social aspects of shark management and interactions.
DPI Deputy Director General Fisheries Dr Geoff Allan said the NSW Government was investing more funding into research of new technologies that may add to the existing suite of shark protection measures.
‘The projects are funded under the Government’s $225,000 Shark Management Strategy Small Grants Program, which will provide competitive grant opportunities annually for each of the next four years,’ he said.
‘These projects will complement the NSW Government’s $16 million Shark Management Strategy, which includes SMART drumlines and tagging, drone surveillance, VR4G listening stations, community education and traditional shark nets.’
The successful projects are:
The behavioural response of white sharks to commercially-available personal shark deterrents – Flinders University
This study will provide a detailed assessment of the efficiency and effect of several commercially available shark repellents by field testing them on white sharks in South Australia. The sharks’ behavioural responses will be documented to determine the extent to which they might deter a shark from biting someone wearing one of these devices.
Using “shark-cam” to unravel shark behaviour – The University of Sydney
This study will test a specialised “shark-cam” to better understand the behaviour of potentially dangerous sharks when they are in near-shore regions. It will involve attaching specialised small cameras to tagged sharks to help develop our currently poor understanding of what sharks do in shallow inshore waters where they might interact with humans.
Developing a rapid method to assess personal electrical and magnet-based shark deterrent devices – Macquarie University
This project will develop a quick and cost effective way to assess the effectiveness of personal electronic and magnetic shark deterrents so people can identify those devices likely to deter sharks and those which won’t, based on fundamental physical principles and basic shark neurobiology. It will complement the Flinders University project being done in South Australia.
Shark deterrents and detection: Community perceptions, sentiment and preferences for shark management strategies – Charles Sturt University
This study will investigate community perceptions of approaches to shark management, including acceptability of a range of lethal and non-lethal strategies. The project aims to gather evidence to inform shark management policy development and communication.
Impacts on human behaviour following a shark-related trauma – Beyond The Bite Inc. and Macquarie University
This study will assess the psychological impact of a shark attack. Beyond the Bite is a support group of over 250 members including survivors, first responders, witnesses, friends and families of survivors and fatal victims. Understanding the psychological impact of those directly affected by a shark attack will assist in the development of better targeted support services for these people.