Flags go up for another season
Wollongong City Council is the first in Australia to trial new shark deterrent technology as part of a management strategy announced for the 2017/18 swim season.
The flags have gone up for another season today (Saturday September 23).
Council Lifeguards and volunteer surf lifesavers will be stationed at Wollongong’s 17 beaches from today until Sunday April 29 2018. Beach-goers are reminded never to swim at unpatrolled beaches and all swimmers are strongly advised to heed all surf warnings.
The new shark management strategy takes a three-staged approach:
- Coastal aerial patrols, from Stanwell Park in the north, to Windang in the south
- Using drone video surveillance to track sharks when there have been confirmed sightings
- Lifeguards trialling innovative new electrical shark-deterrent devices on their jet skis, called Shark Shield
Wollongong City Council is the first Council in Australia to trial the Shark Shield devices, which will be attached to the lifeguard’s jet skis that are used to herd sharks away from beaches. Council’s Recreation Services Manager, Mark Bond said while there has only had three shark sightings on Wollongong beaches last year, it was felt important to take a proactive approach for this year’s swim season, to continue keeping people in the water and lifeguards safe.
“We have 42 kilometres of coastline with 17 patrolled beaches – the biggest service in NSW – which services not only residents of the Illawarra, but more increasingly visitors from South Western Sydney, with over one million beach users every summer,”he said.
An estimated 1.2 million people visited beaches from Stanwell Park to Windang during the 2016/17 swim season. Lifeguards conducted more than 42,000 preventative actions and 544 rescues.
“As the use of Shark Shield on jet skis is a new initiative, the company that makes them are donating their services to us for this trial,” Mr Bond said.
Following a competitive tendering process, Touchdown Helicopters were awarded the contract to provide coastal aerial patrols throughout the 2017/18 summer swimming season. Hover UAV have been contracted to conduct the drone surveillance.
Shark Shield Background
Shark Shield is the world’s only scientifically-proven and independently-tested electrical shark deterrent. Its effectiveness was studied in 2016 by University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute researchers and scientists from the University of Western Australia, Macquarie University, Flinders University and Oceans Research in South Africa. The study provided overwhelming evidence of the effectiveness of Shark Shield at turning sharks away.
Sharks have small short-range electrical receptors in their snouts used for locating food. Shark Shield’s unique three-dimensional electrical waveform turns sharks away by causing unbearable spasms in these sensitive receptors. Used by professionals around the world, including by navies and for surfing contests in South Africa, Shark Shield is a safety device providing peace of mind, while supporting the conservation of sharks.
Watch a video of a Shark Shield surf board deterrent test being performed with numerous sharks in the North West of Australia: