Clever Buoys Come to Bondi

Sonar and social media used to detect sharks in Australia

2015 proved to be a dramatic year for shark attacks, with more incidents reported last year than in any other year on record. And while your chances of being attacked remain low, some cities, like Australia's Bondi Beach, are taking an outside-of-the-box approach to address the issue by installing and testing "Clever Buoys" to detect sharks.

The technologically savvy buoys are equipped with a microprocessor that utilizes sonar to analyze large swimming objects and recognizes the distinct patterns of sharks. When the buoys ping a shark, an alert is sent out via Google + to lifeguards on the beach, who can then assess and respond to the situation.

According to Craig Anderson (Not that Craig Anderson), who works for Shark Mitigation Systems, the company that helped create the buoy, the technology has a 90-percent success rate for detecting sharks.

“The buoy uses a multi-beam sonar, which is a relatively new sonar technology, coupled with some software which is very much like facial recognition technology for marine life,” he told ABC News. “Anything that is greater than two meters and is self-propelled will be detected. The reason we made it two meters is because the history of shark attacks around the world tells us that, with anything less than two meters, you’re unlikely to die.”

The installation of this buoy at Bondi is currently in a testing phase and joins a slew of other initiatives the Australian government has undertaken to deter attacks.

“We have aerial surveillance which has been expanded. We have our shark meshing program between Newcastle and Wollongong,” said NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair. “We have our 4G system on the north coast which is detecting tagged sharks, and now we’ve got our Clever Buoy in Bondi, which we hope has a big future in NSW.”