How tech can help prevent shark bites and keep beaches open

I watched everyone’s favorite summer movie, Jaws, again on the weekend. Fortunately, our relationship with sharks has come a long way from what we saw in the film. We’re getting the facts straight and shifting away from outdated protection methods. And the most valuable tool in preventing shark bites is tech. 

Shark bites are incredibly rare

Incidents of sharks biting humans are infrequent. According to the International Shark Attack File, 137 alleged shark bites occurred last year. 

Most attacks are related to surfing (51%). Just 11 resulted in death – that’s less than a third of US beach drownings so far this year. 

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But our approach to shark bites is far more reactive than in drowning prevention. 

Shark nets and culls are outdated

Traditionally, responses to shark bites involve a heavy-handed approach of culling, such as using shark netsThese are submerged walls of netting that hang in the water and aim to reduce (cull) the shark population. 

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

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

But fortunately, there’s now an arsenal of tech to help prevent and mitigate the impact of shark bites.

Detecting sharks 

This week a beach lifeguard in Long Island was bitten and died while playing the role of a victim during a training exercise in the ocean– eek. In response, beach patrols deployed drones to patrol local beaches to detect sharks. 

shark sonar detection