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Research & Initiatives

The State Government is supporting a variety of research projects and initiatives to gain a better understanding of shark biology and ecology by implementing (and investigating) various public safety initiatives and making changes to government policy. The aim is to provide everyone with useful information to make informed decisions about their water use.

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Shark Monitoring Network

Shark Monitoring Network

06 November 2013

The Shark Monitoring Network (SMN) is one of the largest and most sophisticated research and public safety projects of its kind, providing vital public safety warnings that may help save peoples’ lives.

The project began in 2009, to see if it was possible to monitor the movements of tagged white sharks off Perth, and to use new satellite-linked technology as an early warning system when tagged sharks swam close to popular beaches. 

Sharks are fitted with acoustic tags which emit a sequence of low frequency ‘clicks’ that give each tag an audible ID number. These unique signals can be detected and recorded when the shark swims within 400-500m of an acoustic receiver. 

Between 2009 and 2016 the SMN collected data from 309 data-recording receivers from Esperance to Ningaloo, including the 25 satellite-linked receivers deployed along the Perth, South West and South Coasts. The seven year shark monitoring research program recorded almost 180, 000 shark detections on these receivers, providing a wealth of valuable data. 

More than 22,000 of those detections were from 64 tagged white sharks. The research showed the movement of white sharks was mostly uncoordinated which makes it hard to predict when humans might encounter them. For further information view Fisheries Research Report No. 273, 2016. Helpful Q&As on the findings are also available.

While the data collection phase of the research has now been completed, the lasting public benefit is the satellite-linked receivers. The receivers will continue to provide safety agencies with near real time alerts of tagged sharks at key locations, enabling beaches to be closed, and providing the public with critical information when making decisions on its water-use.  

In June 2017, the SMN was extended to Esperance as part of the Western Australian Government's shark hazard mitigation strategy, increasing the network to 27 satellite-linked receivers. 

To view receiver locations and explore the data collected, visit our Shark Monitoring Network Research Map.

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