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June 21, 2021

Sydney Aquarium to trial shark detection technology

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A Clever Buoy in an open ocean trial. Photo Clever Buoy
A Clever Buoy in an open ocean trial. Photo Clever Buoy

Researchers from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Australian company Shark Mitigation Systems and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) will test shark detection technology at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.

DPI Fisheries deputy director general Dr Geoff Allan said the Clever Buoy was one of the technologies being trialled as part of the NSW Government’s $16 million shark management strategy.

‘The strategy is a scientifically-driven program encompassing some of the most advanced shark management techniques in the world,’ he said.

‘Along with other measures such as increased aerial surveillance, drone surveillance, shark tagging and detection, and the SharkSmart app, the Clever Buoy can help us provide NSW beachgoers with as much information about shark movements as possible.’

Clever Buoy, developed by Australian company Shark Mitigation Systems (SMS), uses sonar and sophisticated software to detect the distinctive movement patterns made by sharks and transmit critical information to local beach authorities.

Researchers from DPI, SMS and UTS will work with Sea Life staff to place the system in the aquarium’s shark exhibit commencing on Wednesday.

UTS researcher Professor William Gladstone said it was ‘an excellent opportunity to further assess Clever Buoy’s shark detection capabilities with a variety of shark species in a controlled environment.’

Senior aquarist Nick Harris said Sydney Aquarium is home to a wide variety of shark species.

‘We’re thrilled to host the Clever Buoy trial in our Shark Valley exhibit and offer our assistance,’ he said.

‘Sharks play a vital role in our ecosystem and we believe in non-lethal shark deterrent methods that are safe for both swimmers and marine life. We look forward to seeing the end results from this three-day trial.’

Last month researchers positioned a Clever Buoy about 1km offshore near Hawks Nest at Port Stephens to assess its capability to detect white sharks in field conditions.

An array of underwater stereo video cameras recorded for up to five hours each day, and images of white sharks captured were compared to the information received from the Clever Buoy to visually verify shark detections.

The visual verification project followed a successful eight-week trial of the sonar technology conducted by SMS at Bondi Beach earlier this year.

‘The information gathered from this research collaboration will help us understand this advancing technology for shark species, and how we can use it to give NSW beachgoers the best available protection,’ Dr Allan said.


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