New Pinger Technology To Protect Whales From Shark Nets

1 Jun 2016 1

Photo by KBegg / OEH

Photo by KBegg / OEH

COASTALWATCH | Environmental News

The Queensland Government in conjunction with the CoastalCOMS division of Coastalwatch and James Cook University has today announced the trial of a new technology aims to improve the reliability of the acoustic pingers protecting migrating whales off the Queensland. 

The real-time technology includes an acoustic buoy that was recently deployed off Kirra Beach it will monitor the pingers that are in place to deter whales from straying into nets that keep sharks away from public beaches. The call for an upscale of such technology and process comes after pressure from the public to reduce bicatches and marine deaths from the effective shark nets.

“Pingers have been used successfully in recent years to keep whales away from shark nets,” the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Leanne Donaldson said. “Last year only one whale was entangled in shark netting and it was successfully released without harm. That’s a great outcome when you consider approximately 24,000 whales migrated up and back in 2015."

“The pingers play a big part in ensuring that whales pass through Queensland waters without incident and we are now trialling a data logging buoy to monitor the pingers and make sure they are always working. This new technology will ensure the effectiveness of pingers used in the program to warn whales of the nets and prevent entanglements. We are committed to the Shark Control Program and the protection it affords all year round to swimmers and surfers off popular Queensland beaches. We are also keen to use the latest technology to reduce accidental capture of marine animals.”

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Jeff Krause from Queensland Fisheries Shark Control Program said, "The data buoy is transmitting information on the pingers to CoastalComs so any defects can be picked up immediately so the faulty pingers can be replaced. Further use of the data-logging buoy may include the ability to track nets that become loose due to heavy weather conditions.

“The information systems we are developing in the Sensor-Q Project will benefit many areas of research through to commercial opportunities,” said Professor Ian Atkinson, head of the Sensor-Q Project based at James Cook University. “This new technology could be used for a number of other environmental monitoring needs such as monitoring boat traffic in busy harbours.”

A core component of the project is the Environmental Data Management System known as EnviroCOMS. This flexible cloud-based software offering from CoastalCOMS keeps Queensland Fisheries connected to live data recorded by the buoys. “We are building an Environmental Data Management System that will allow end users, such as local councils and government, to keep on top of the increasing data streams they are faced with. The system we have developed also allows for real-time data to combine with other information, for instance, weather and long-term information, and delivers reports that allow managers to make informed decisions” said Chris Lane, General Manager of CoastalCOMS.

If people see an entangled animal they are urged to report it immediately to the Sharkwatch Hotline on 1800 806 891. 

The acoustic buoy released last week at Kirra Beach, Photo provided

The acoustic buoy released last week at Kirra Beach, Photo provided


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