For everything that technology has done for us, perhaps its most important role has been keeping everyone safe from sharks. We can enter shark-infested waters with one of several different anti-shark wetsuits. Even so, we’d recommend avoiding the creatures altogether. But how do you know if there are sharks in the water? Easy. Check Twitter. The sharks (at least the ones in Western Australia) have begun tweeting when they’re close to shore.
They do it over at Surf Life Saving Western Australia’s twitter account as a way to warn beachgoers of potential dangers.
Of course, the sharks aren’t pulling out smartphones and logging onto Twitter. Given that sharks are carnivores, they’d probably rather us not know when they’re approaching the shore. Rather, scientists have tagged more than 320 sharks of all kinds, including great whites. When the sharks swim within a kilometer of the beach (and within reach of onshore monitors), a signal is translated into a tweet.
The tweets include an awful lot of information about each tweeting shark, such as its location, distance from shore, type of shark, and time of sighting.
It makes sense this would be in Western Australia, the most dangerous area in the world with regards to shark attacks. It’s an interesting method of keeping an eye on the fish, but the fact remains that sharks simply aren't that dangerous to humans. There are only about 100 attacks each year (not including the ones in the Jaws films). Since 1580, there have been fewer than 500 fatal attacks.
There's a lot of potential for using this technology for tracking other animals, and whatever it’s ultimately used for, having such public tracking could lead to nothing but interesting results. And that, along with not getting eaten by a shark, is something I look forward to.
Writer's Note: If I do happen to get eaten by a shark, can we remove the whole “it’s not that likely” part? Thanks.