Beachgoers in Australia are now able to track some of the tiger sharks swimming along their coast in real time using a phone app, and scientists hope the efforts may change the face of the country’s controversial shark policies.
Working with Ocearch, researchers have tagged three large tiger sharks off the coast of Fraser Island, along Queensland’s southern coast, according to the Daily Mail. With the transmitters attached to their dorsal fins, the sharks can be easily spotted using a smartphone app, which shows that Jedda, a 3.5-metre female tiger shark, is currently moving north along the Australian coast. In the future, the app may be used to warn beachgoers when a shark approaches their area, according to Southeast Queensland tiger shark researcher Bonnie Holmes.
“Having that information in real time is fantastic and if people do want it for a slight safety reason then absolutely,” she asserted.
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Researchers like Holmes hope that tracking the sharks will not only reveal data about their poorly understood migratory patterns, but also change the way in which state governments deal with the predators. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, shark populations have prompted numerous controversial policies in Australia. While many beaches are enclosed by nets, sonar has recently been promoted as an early warning system for sharks. In Western Australia, researchers have threatened to withhold tagging data from the government, after it was used to initiate a catch and kill order for a large white shark that lingered off Warnbro sound last year.
“We might be able to show they don’t go to certain areas so we might be able to remove some of that shark control gear,” Holmes said.
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The tagging initiative is a joint effort between the researchers and Ocearch, a group that works to track sharks globally. Dr. Adam Barnett, a marine and environmental science researcher at James Cook University, pointed out that the technology Ocearch employs is invaluable to the current tiger shark program, according to News.Com.Au.
“Having hands-on, safe access to live mature tiger sharks will be a significant boost to research… providing data we could never have dreamed of achieving on our own,” he noted.
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As the program continues, researchers will move north, tagging around 20 animals before seeking out other tiger sharks in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
[Image: PR Image via the Daily Mail]