Marine

Clever Buoy uses sonar to raise the shark alarm

The Clever Buoy is designed to detect sharks and send alerts to lifeguards
The Clever Buoy is designed to detect sharks and send alerts to lifeguards
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The Clever Buoy is designed to detect sharks and send alerts to lifeguards
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The Clever Buoy is designed to detect sharks and send alerts to lifeguards
The Clever Buoy's paired sonar-emitting box
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The Clever Buoy's paired sonar-emitting box
A processor in the buoy analyzes the reflections of the emitted signals, and is able to identify the sonar signature of shark-sized objects in the vicinity
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A processor in the buoy analyzes the reflections of the emitted signals, and is able to identify the sonar signature of shark-sized objects in the vicinity
The Clever Buoy technology being tested at the Sydney Aquarium
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The Clever Buoy technology being tested at the Sydney Aquarium

In many parts of the world, shark attacks are a very real possibility for anyone entering the ocean. While suspended nets do help keep the toothsome fish separated from swimmers, they're far from from 100 percent reliable, plus sharks (along with other marine animals) regularly get caught in them and perish – as sharks are one of the ocean's apex predators, removing them from the ecosystem could have disastrous consequences. The Clever Buoy, however, may prove to be an effective method of keeping humans and sharks apart, with no harm coming to either.

Currently being developed by Australian tech firm Optus, the buoy is anchored to a seabed-located box, that emits sonar signals into the surrounding water. A processor in the buoy analyzes the reflections of those signals, and is able to identify the sonar signature of shark-sized objects in the vicinity. To lessen the chances of it being fooled by animals like dolphins, it also takes note of how such objects propel themselves through the water, to see if they're moving in a shark-like fashion.

The idea is that a series of the buoys/boxes could be arranged in a row offshore, running parallel to a beach. Whenever any of them detected a shark, it would send an alert via satellite to the local lifeguard's smartphone. That person would then sound an alarm, telling all swimmers to get out of the water until the shark had moved on.

A processor in the buoy analyzes the reflections of the emitted signals, and is able to identify the sonar signature of shark-sized objects in the vicinity
A processor in the buoy analyzes the reflections of the emitted signals, and is able to identify the sonar signature of shark-sized objects in the vicinity

Not only would the system be more humane than nets, but it would also presumably be easier to install and maintain. Additionally, unlike the existing buoy-based Shark Monitoring Network, it would detect all sharks instead of just those that had been previously caught and tagged.

The Clever Buoy technology has already successfully identified sharks in tests conducted at the Sydney Aquarium and Australia's Abrolhos Islands. Optus hopes to have the system commercialized by the middle of next year.

More information is available in the following video.

Source: Clever Buoy

5 comments
JSmith
I had an idea like this a few years ago, my concern was that the sonar signals would attract the sharks in the first place.
Slowburn
@ JSmith Find frequencies that sharks can't hear or sounds that don't attract sharks. Commercial cod fishermen (Icelandic I think) had a problem with whales destroying their nets to get at the fish and getting themselves killed at the same time. A marine biologist found the solution in in a noise make that the cod can't hear but repel whales.
Mirmillion
Good point re: frequencies discussion but one small question: would it not be better to have sharks know that they have been pinged and identified? Since they are stealth hunters, they might not like being identified first i.e., "oh shit, they saw me"...no food in this bay, time to move to easier prey and so learned behavior could potentially result.
John Dziki
Program it for scuba divers and sell it to the Navy.
analogue girl
Can it be tuned for the corporate variety?:-)