Sunday, August 30, 2015

In Australia, more than 300 sharks are on Twitter

When there's a shark in your ocean, your tornado, or your pool, it's safe to say that you're probably trying to stay the hell away. In Western Australia, steering clear of sharks has never been easier, now that they're all on Twitter. Government researchers have tagged more than 300 sharks with transmitters that enable them to monitor where the animals are. More than that, though, the transmitters send out a tweet to notify the public when the sharks are approaching shore.

In Australia, more than 300 sharks are on Twitter

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In this image released by Syfy, Ian Ziering, second left, and Cassie Scerbo battle a shark in the Syfy original film "Sharknado."  The network is announcing a sequel to "Sharknado," which became an instant campy classic with its recent airing. The new film premieres in 2014. (AP Photo/Syfy)
In this image released by Syfy, Ian Ziering, second left, and Cassie Scerbo battle a shark in the Syfy original film "Sharknado." The network is announcing a sequel to "Sharknado," which became an instant campy classic with its recent airing. The new film premieres in 2014. (AP Photo/Syfy) AP

When there's a shark in your ocean, your tornado, or your pool, it's safe to say that you're probably trying to stay the hell away. In Western Australia, steering clear of sharks has never been easier, now that they're all on Twitter. Government researchers have tagged more than 300 sharks with transmitters that enable them to monitor where the animals are. More than that, though, the transmitters send out a tweet to notify the public when the sharks are approaching shore.

When a tagged shark is about half a mile away from a beach, it triggers a computer alert, which tweets out a message on the Surf Life Saving Western Australia Twitter feed. The tweet notes the shark's size, breed and approximate location.

Since 2011, Australia has had more fatal shark attacks than any other country; there have been six over the past two years — the most recent in November.

The tagging system alerts beachgoers far quicker than traditional warnings, says Chris Peck, operations manager of Surf Life Saving Western Australia. "Now it's instant information," he tells Sky News, "and really people don't have an excuse to say we're not getting the information. It's about whether you are searching for it and finding it." [NPR]

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