Clever Buoy system to protect surfers at J'Bay Open

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Swellnet Dispatch

images_3.jpeg"Sometimes it takes a tragic event before there's a call to arms," said Craig Anderson, co-founder of Shark Attack Mitigations Systems (SAMS) in an interview with Swellnet last year. Anderson's words were prophetic as Mick Fanning narrowly escaped a gruesome live-to-air shark attack at Jeffreys Bay not long afterward.

Immediately following the incident there were doubts the contest would continue, the shark threat at J'Bay being too great and the WSL had a duty of care to its athletes. Last November, however, the WSL announced they would be returning to J'Bay and they were working with "a number of firms specialising in [shark] mitigation technology".

Yesterday it was reported that SAMS had won the contract to protect competitors at the J'Bay Open. The technology SAMS will be using is called the Clever Buoy system.

The system works when a temporary network of electronic buoys is deployed around a wave zone. The electronic buoys use sonar to detect shark-sized objects swimming near the network. When a detection is made the buoy relays a signal to officials on the beach.

SAMS are based in Western Australia and the Clever Buoy system has been tested in WA waters. It also had a succesful 30 day trial in Sydney last summer. Aside from the WSL, Anderson said they've been approached by resort owners who wish to make their private beaches safe, and even coastal land devlopers selling property near "shark safe beaches".

The WSL announcement was fortuitous for SAMS as the company listed last month and its shares rose 17.5 per cent following the news. SAMS also make striped wetsuits with different patterns for diving or surfing, each designed to confuse a shark.

Mick Fanning has already stated he'll surf in the upcoming J'Bay Open, though we've no idea if he'll take the extra precautions and wear a striped wetsuit.


wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443 Thursday, 23 Jun 2016 at 1:03pm

Wonder how many times the comp will be stopped with the alarm going off having detected a "shark-sized object"? And, when stopped, how long it is placed 'on hold' before resuming?

So, not only working around swells and wind conditions but now also the local wildlife. Sorta makes the case for holding comps in pools ... :)

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 23 Jun 2016 at 1:23pm

whats the story with dolphins?

which are abundant at J-Bay.

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally Thursday, 23 Jun 2016 at 7:35pm

Clever Buoy say, though it stipulates here 'in the future',

"The Clever Buoy uses sophisticated software that differentiates between the length of an object, and its propulsion through the water.
In testing it has been identified that sharks create a distinctive sonar signature and swimming pattern that is different to mammals. The Clever Buoy sonar will adapt and develop with increasing knowledge of the difference between a shark’s sonar signature and movement pattern and that of other sea life. The development is similar to the development of ‘face recognition’ software in humans.
Future iterations of the Clever Buoy could potentially identify acoustic signatures, anatomical characteristics such as jaw size and lungs, as well as swimming patterns to continually develop more sophisticated detection algorithms.
Signatures were captured during testing in the Sydney Aquarium and the Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia that will enable the Clever Buoy to further differentiate between sea life in the future. For instance, a human, a dolphin, seal, large ray or school of fish create very different patterns on the sonar."

OHV500's picture
OHV500's picture
OHV500 Thursday, 23 Jun 2016 at 1:29pm

Yes - good points wingnut and free - looks as though wave pools will be the go in the future for the WSL - I'll watch the first time then turn it off. Wonder how a surfer with power - like Connor or Jordy- will go in a pool ?

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Friday, 24 Jun 2016 at 3:13pm

Having spent a fair amount of time at j bay, i think that thing will be buzzing all over the place. Plenty of large sea life in those waters........