How technology can help prevent shark bites and keep beaches open

I watched everyone’s favorite summer movie, Jaws, again over the weekend. Fortunately, our relationship with the sharks is a far cry from what we saw in the movie. We clarify the facts and move away from outdated protection methods. And the most valuable tool for preventing shark bites is technology.

Shark bites are incredibly rare

Incidents of sharks biting humans are infrequent. According to International Shark Attack File137 suspected shark bites took place last year.

Most attacks are related to surfing (51%). Only 11 resulted in death – that’s less than a third drownings on beaches in the United States so far this year.

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But our approach to shark bites is much more reactive than that to drowning prevention.

Shark nets and slaughterhouses are obsolete

Traditionally, responses to shark bites involve a brutal approach to slaughter, such as the use shark nets. These are submerged walls of nets that hang in the water and aim to reduce (kill) the shark population.

However, research has found that only 10% of their catch is sharks, as they unfortunately also trap dolphins, whales and turtles.

Nets are no longer used in Cape Town, Florida, New Zealand and Hawaii, but Australia is unfortunately still catching up.

But fortunately, there is now an arsenal of technology to help prevent and lessen the impact of shark bites.

Detect sharks

This week, a beach lifeguard on Long Island was bitten and dead while playing the role of a casualty during a training exercise in the ocean–eek. In response, beach patrols deployed drone patrol local beaches for sharks.

shark detection by sonar