WA Surf Company Wins $300k Grant for Surfboard Shark Deterrent



WA company to develop electronic surfboard fins to deter sharks

Jan. 2, 2014, 10:44 a.m.

A WA company will be awarded $300,000 over two years to develop surfboard fins with an in-built electronic shark deterrent as part of the state government’s latest bid to improve safety at local beaches.

The company and two WA universities were awarded $967,161 in the second round of applied research funding as part of the state government’s Shark Hazard Mitigation Strategy.

The Shark Hazard Advisory Research Committee, chaired by Chief Scientist Lyn Beazley, recommended four proposals for funding from a strong and impressive field of applicants.

Premier and science minister Colin Barnett said WA company Shark Shield Pty Ltd intended to develop a deterrent device that can be retro-fitted to all modern surfboards.

The Premier said a project managed by Dr Christine Erbe at Curtin University’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology would also receive $130,124 over three years to develop systems that mask those noises of beachgoers, including swimmers and surfers, which attract sharks.

The University of Western Australia will receive funding for two projects.

A project led by Shane Chambers will get $252,417 to develop an acoustic system to detect sharks as they approach beaches.

Associate Professor Nathan Hart will lead a $284,620 project to define the actual visual, electrical and vibrational (sensory) cues that trigger shark attacks.

This work will allow the design of shark deterrents based on knowledge of what causes shark attacks.

“The Shark Hazard Mitigation Strategy recognises that there is no one simple way to ensure the risks to West Australian water-users are minimised,” Mr Barnett said.

“Finding out more about sharks and developing new methods to detect and deter sharks is obviously central to this.”

The Premier said these new projects would complement research undertaken under Round 1 of this applied research program.

Under the first round, announced in December 2012, the state government is funding four projects including research into existing shark deterrents such as the Shark Shield, as well as novel deterrents such as strobe lights, bubble curtains and using underwater sounds.

That first round of funding also funded the Centre of Marine Science and Technology at Curtin University to research sonar detection and imaging of sharks and another project at UWA looking at the development of algorithms to improve visual shark detection.

Mr Barnett said WA universities would now develop next-generation shark detection and tracking systems based on acoustic, sonar and visual systems.

“Western Australian companies and universities are collaborating to test and develop electrical, visual, chemical and acoustic shark deterrents to increase the safety of beachgoers and surfers,” he said.

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