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Clever buoy makes a splash

Clever buoy makes a splash
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The Clever Buoy incorporates technology designed to protect swimmers and surfers from sharks.

There have been more than 200 unprovoked shark attacks in Australia over the last 20 years. With its sonar and satellite-based warning technology, Perth company Shark Mitigation Systems, aims to reduce attacks.

Clever Buoy’s sonar technology is designed to recognise sharks in the water says co-founder Hamish Jolly: “The testing found two really important things. The first is that we can actually see a shark using sonar which historically has been quite difficult to do. The second is that we are able to pick up the specific characteristics of the way a shark swims which gives us the opportunity to detect sharks as opposed to other objects in the water.”

When the system detects a shark, it sends a signal to a satellite which relays the alert to lifeguards on the beach via a flashing light in the guard tower.

Bruce Hopkins, who works as a chief lifeguard, says the device could be breakthrough technology: “The Clever Buoy is going to be something that is going to be great for the lifeguards with the technology. We’ll know when something comes through. It’ll notify us in the tower and then we’ll be able to see what it is actually that’s come through into the beach. We’ll know whether to put the alarm on or whether just to send the jet ski out to check out the condition.”

The prototype buoy weighs about 35 kg and is designed be used either on board a vessel or floating in the water, with the sonar on the seabed.

This new shark alert system is not on sale yet, as the software is still being refined and developed, but when it is eventually deployed, it is easy to see how it could save lives.

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