WSL Employs Shark Surveillance for J-Bay Open

World Surf League heads to South Africa for the J-Bay Open next month. The uptick in viewership will undoubtedly be the result of Mick Fanning’s near-tragic shark attack during last year’s final. And although the WSL will welcome the extra attention, they want to guarantee a safe event – despite depriving the rubbernecking masses from a repeat shark encounter.

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The WSL has hired Shark Mitigation Systems (SMS) to enforce the lineup during the J-Bay Open, reports The Australian. SMS’s patented ‘Clever Buoy’ uses sonar to scan the water for marine life, relaying information back to officials on land. If something resembling a shark is spotted, the contest organizers will likely take the precautionary measures necessary to keep the athletes safe — i.e. get them the hell out of the water, Surfline reported.

“We are very excited to be working with the pro surfing league to showcase our technology and provide critical safety information to the organizers of this event,” SMS co-founder Craig Anderson said. “This will help place our technology on the world stage, showing what it can do to keep surfers and other ocean users safe in the water.”

The ‘Clever Buoy’ acts like an air traffic control tower, while the swimmers or surfers are the planes. By detecting turbulent weather patterns, or sharks, officials can alert those in the direct path. Before this technology was applied to the shark detection sphere, many places like Reunion Island and Australia used shark nets and drum lines, which have been criticized as inhumane and environmentally invasive.

At Bondi Beach in NSW, Australia, the ‘Clever Buoy’ system was installed, which spawned praise by the lifeguards as an effective lifesaving device. And in Western Australia, where shark attacks are disturbingly frequent, the buoy system has been presented as an alternative to nets and drum lines.

Taj Burrow, one of West Oz’s finest who recently retired from competition, has shown his support for the SMS ‘Clever Buoy’ at the surf spots around his home.

“It’s hard to walk down the street at the moment without people talking about sharks,” Burrow told The West Australian, upon his return from his last event in Fiji. “And for good reason. There have been a lot of sightings and a lot of attacks. That’s one of the main reasons why I became involved with the Shark Mitigation Company. I never once thought about sharks growing up. Now they’re on my mind every time I paddle out.”

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Source: surfline.com / Author: Dashel Pierson

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