Clever buoy: the innovative shark detection system designed in WA using Simona and Ensinger engineering plastics distributed by Plastral

Simona and Ensinger engineering plastic products, distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Plastral, have been used for the construction of “Clever buoy”, an innovative shark detection system currently under trial in Sydney’s Bondi beach.

Source: ABC News, Original Article by Laura Gartry

29 Jan 2016

A WA-designed shark detection system, the “Clever Buoy”, will be trialled at Sydney’s Bondi beach following a spate of attacks in NSW, but the WA Government remains unconvinced by the new technology.

Key points:

  • System can detect sharks from 250-300 metres away
  • Trial to be rolled out at five NSW beaches
  • Despite being designed in WA, no plans to trial it here

The buoys’ sonar beams can detect any marine animal over two metres long, according to Perth-based developers, Shark Attack Mitigation Systems.

Current acoustic alerts used by the WA Department of Fisheries only pick up on tagged sharks and work alongside sightings and patrols.

Shark Attack Mitigation System director Craig Anderson said the Clever Buoy had undergone extensive testing in uncontrolled environments, such as Esperance and also controlled environment like the Sydney aquarium.

“Clever buoy is basically like a virtual shark net,” he said.

“It uses a combination of multi-spectrum sonar and some software that we have written and co-developed that is very much like facial recognition software for marine life.”

The four imaging sonars look for large shark-sized objects and can cover a radius of up to 80 metres. The total combined coverage for each Clever Buoy is around 250-300 metres.

The imagery is then computed into algorithms which use a range of indicators including swimming patterns to determine what type of underwater animal the sensors have detected.

If a shark is identified the Clever Buoy sends a signal to lifeguards who receive the alert on a mobile app.

The NSW Government has committed several million dollars to trial Clever Buoys at five locations, including two in Northern NSW where there has been a spate of attacks, pending a successful trial at Bondi.

The latest version of the Clever Buoy is leaving Perth on Thursday bound for the NSW trial from mid-next month.

Despite the technology originating in the state, it will not be hitting Western Australian beaches anytime soon.

WA Premier Colin Barnett said his government had concentrated on other shark mitigation strategies, including tagging and researching repellent devices to keep beachgoers safe.

“A lot of our investment now has been in aerial patrols both along Perth beaches and in the South West,” he said. “They are proving to be very effective both in identifying sharks and warning swimmers. “[We have also made a] big investment in surf lifesaving clubs in terms of their ability and equipment and also the creation of safe swimming areas.”

Department of Fisheries’ Shark Response Unit head Lisa Clack said they would not be trialling the Clever Buoy, but would be interested in the outcome of the NSW trial.

She said there had been contact between the State Government and Shark Attack Mitigation Systems, however no formal proposal has been received by the government.

In 2013 the WA Government spent $273,000 on a separate sonar research project through Curtin University which also led to a shark detection system.

The researchers are due to finalise the report for the State Government in the coming months.

But researcher Miles Parsons said it appeared there was no funding forthcoming to develop the system further for testing. “To date we haven’t had a response that suggests we will get further funding, but we still need to go through further discussions on that,” he said.

Those researchers are also looking to Sydney and private enterprise for funding.

Click here to read the original article