Clever Buoy system to protect surfers at J'Bay Open
"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.