Sharks Use Twitter to Warn Beach Goers in Western Australia

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By Reissa Su | December 28, 2013 12:38 AM EST

Sharks in Western Australia are using Twitter to warn swimmers of their presence. The group Surf Life Saving WA has attached transmitters to 320 sharks in Australia and programmed them to send a "tweet" whenever a shark moves within a half a mile from the shore. The tweet inform swimmers of the location, type and size of the shark.

Australians usually get shark alerts from newspapers and radios when officials detect a shark's presence. The Twitter alert is useful in giving out information immediately to the public. Surf Life Saving's Chris Peck told Sky News that yesterday's paper is not going to help anyone who is planning to go to the beach on a Saturday afternoon. Mr Peck said people will now have access to instant information about sharks in the vicinity.

Aside from sending tweets warning swimmers, the transmitters can also provide researchers with new scientific data on how great white sharks move. The batteries in transmitters were designed to last for a decade.

Principal research scientist Rory McAuley from Australia's Department of Fisheries stated that the extensive receiver network of Western Australia contributes to significant research to help the government have a better understanding of shark movement. The much-needed information will play a major role in public safety on beaches.

Previous reports have indicated Western Australia as one of the deadliest places in the world for shark attacks. Western Australia has topped the list of International Shark Attack File by the University of Florida.

In the past two years, six people have been injured or killed by sharks in Western Australia. The shark attacks have affected tourism in Western Australia over fears of swimming in its beaches. The Australian government has moved to cull sharks by allowing commercial fishermen to kill sharks they could find that measured over three metres long.

Western Australians for Shark Conservation does not agree with the government's plan. Ross Weir of the conservation group remarked it was a "simple knee-jerk reaction, based on zero science." Mr Weir added that the plan will not contribute to the safety of beach goers and will only affect the great white sharks and other endangered shark species. 

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