NSW Department of Primary Industries researchers tag and release a shark caught on a SMART Drumline off the Coffs Coast.
NSW Department of Primary Industries researchers tag and release a shark caught on a SMART Drumline off the Coffs Coast. NSWDPI

Newest tech gets Coffs shark smart

TEN shark management alerts and real time shark drumlines have been installed off the Coffs Coast.

The drumlines will be situated from Diggers Beach down to Sawtell, while the listening station will be based in Coffs Harbour.

This move comes as part of the NSW Government's $16 million Shark Management Strategy.

The SMART drumlines are not designed or operated to kills sharks but rather as a "shark bite mitigation" measure according to the DPI website.

A NSW DPI spokeswoman said 138 tagged great white sharks were actively being tracked.

Since the start of the program, there has been very few shark mortalities

"There has been only one mortality of a white shark on SMART drumlines," the spokeswoman said.

SMART drumlines are made up of two buoys, a satellite-linked communication unit attached to a trace and baited hook which is secured by an anchor and rope.

The drumlines are installed about 500m offshore, away from swimmers and surfers.

When a shark is hooked, the line triggers an alert. A team of DPI scientists or contractors then respond to manage the animal.

When a target shark is caught on the drumlines, it allows researchers to gain a better understanding of their movements and distribution using tracking methods.

The tagged shark is then released about 1km offshore.

Recent DPI tracks of tagged sharks showed sharks often moved further offshore immediately after release in the first 24-48 hours.

Tagged sharks are tracked by scientists, who monitor their movements to better understand any travel patterns.

When a tagged shark swims past any of the 21 acoustic listening stations, it's broadcast automatically via the DPI SharkSmart Twitter account @NSWSharkSmart and on the SharkSmart app.

 

SMART drumlines have been used extensively on the North Coast since December 2015.

This month 50 SMART drumlines will be rolled out in the region including Coffs Harbour, Forster/Tuncurry, Kiama to Shell Cove and Ulladulla to Narrawallee. These locations were selected using historical data and recent aerial surveillance.

Great white sharks, tiger sharks and bull sharks are the targeted species of the program.

According to the DPI website, SMART drumline have proven effective in catching the targeted species with minimal bycatch and mortality.

The technology will be fine tuned as research continues and animal activity will be videoed.



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