Drones deployed by marine scientist to monitor sharks along Northern NSW beaches

Luisa Rubbo
Swellnet Dispatch

Marine scientists monitoring the waters along the Northern New South Wales coastline say the threat of sharks is overblown and they have the data to prove it.

The National Marine Science Centre at Southern Cross University and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) collected two years' worth of drone footage as part of the State Government's Shark Management Strategy.

Professor Brendan Kelaher and his team tracked marine wildlife at locations known for shark bite incidents including Lennox Head, Ballina, Byron Bay and Evans Head.

To their delight, they found a thriving and vibrant marine ecosystem and very few "dangerous sharks" among the estimated 4,000 large marine animals they counted.

"One of the outcomes of our data ... we know it's up to 135 times more likely to be a dolphin, which is really good news," Mr Kelaher said.

"Sharks are a little few and far between and what we saw was this other diverse wildlife, which we're excited about."

The drone cameras captured scenes of whales coming close to shore to feed and schools of dolphins.

One of the most breathtaking sights, Mr Kelaher said, were fevers of cownose rays congregating near surfers in complex geometric patterns.

Less common were sharks, which typically took hundreds of flights before one was spotted.

"I would say that the shark bite incidents are incredibly rare and they're incredibly unlucky, but they do still happen," Mr Kelaher said.

"If you listen to a lot of people, you'd believe there's lots and lots of sharks — but the reality is there's lots and lots of dolphins."

Southern Cross University will continue with the drone monitoring program, which the professor said has been a gamechanger.

"Previously we could just have a bit of an inkling of what went on from top of the water," Mr Kelaher said.

"Drones have allowed us to be this eye in the sky that's provided a new way of looking at what's going on in our marine environment.

"It's going to be really important for ensuring the long term sustainability of these really important wildlife populations."

// LUISA RUBBO
© Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

Comments

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 9:16am

Don't mind me, I'm just stocking up on popcorn for the afternoon.

ojackojacko's picture
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ojackojacko commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 12:12pm

:))) classic Ben - I can hear the keyboards warming up ...

tidak_bagus's picture
tidak_bagus's picture
tidak_bagus commented Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 at 10:12am

I have a copy of the journal article but i cant attach it to the thread

50young's picture
50young's picture
50young commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 9:19am

I'd say your live baiting Ben ;)

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 9:27am

"Marine scientists monitoring the waters along the Northern New South Wales coastline say the threat of sharks is overblown and they have the data to prove it."

Unless marine scientists failed basic statistics I'd say the attack/encounter rate, data from tagging and listening stations makes a mockery of that headline.

Fucking hell, the level of this debate, is puerile.

To be fair, it's probably a clickbait journalism headline.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 9:31am

Forget about the sharks, who knew that a gathering of rays was called a fever?

Now that's news.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 9:42am

Clickbait? The journo is from the ABC (not sure how long for, but she's based in Port Macquarie), and the research program was conducted by the National Marine Science Centre at Southern Cross University and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The headline is as it was provided to us by the ABC. It pretty much states the facts too: "Drones deployed by marine scientist" (yep) "to monitor sharks along Northern NSW beaches" (yep).

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 9:47am

Sorry, I meant the opening line.

"Marine scientists monitoring the waters along the Northern New South Wales coastline say the threat of sharks is overblown and they have the data to prove it."

Completely meaningless, fact free statement. It's just pure emotional, clickbait garbage.

But I would like to see the raw data from the research program.

garyg1412's picture
garyg1412's picture
garyg1412 commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 9:49am

Maybe the sharks are just camera shy!!!

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 9:57am

they hate drones.

Maybe they have good taste?

Here we go: Marine scientists say sharks hate drones and wish for their immediate extinction and they have the data to prove it.

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 10:56am

2 years of 'data' from a drone and thats proof ?
The full research is available online through CSIRO Publishing , marine and freshwater research journals,,, but they want $25 for the PDF.

chin's picture
chin's picture
chin commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 10:57am

Surely a drone can only see a shark if it’s near the surface or in shallow water

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 12:15pm

Though more so than we can see from the water.

mattmac's picture
mattmac's picture
mattmac commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 11:36am

Seems like a fair call - the whole shark fear/media frenzy is overblown -sure there's going to be an attack now and then which isn't that surprising when so many people are entering the marine environment but statistically it's very small compared to other risk factors.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 12:58pm

It’d be interesting to know the total hours of footage. Also considering many dolphins have a home range you’d assume that the same dolphins are being counted repeatedly. Not to mention that dolphins group in pods , whilst the scary breeds of sharks tend to hunt solo or in very small schools , so that you’re more likely to have higher numbers when dolphins are spotted.

Dolphins also surface frequently making them much easier to see than sharks which will often hug the bottom , making them more difficult to spot in murky water.

tidak_bagus's picture
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tidak_bagus commented Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 at 10:11am

Direct quote from the paper. Make of it what you will.

Beach locations and environmental conditions
To test hypotheses about the spatial and temporal variation of
large marine fauna off exposed ocean beaches, four drones were
used to simultaneously survey four beaches on a 55-km stretch
of coastline in northern New South Wales, Australia (Fig. 1).
Each of the four surveyed beaches, Byron Bay (28.6422878S,
153.6207328E), Lennox Head (28.7846738S, 153.5937598E),
Ballina (28.8682118S, 153.5926248E) and Evans Head
(29.1114868S, 153.4341338E), are places where people have
been bitten by sharks in the past 5 years. Drone surveys were
conducted in the following three distinct sampling periods: (1)
6 October–18 December 2016; (2) 30 June–17 July 2017; and
(3) 23 September–8 October 2017. During the first sample
period, drone surveys occurred every few days at Lennox Head,
Ballina and Evans Head (94 surveys). During the second
(68 surveys) and third (54 surveys) periods, surveys were
undertaken on most days and at all beaches.
Drone surveys were undertaken in waters less than 6 m deep
and across a range of wind speeds (0–37 km h1), wind
directions (offshore, onshore and cross shore), cloud covers
(ranging from 0 to 8 oktas) and air temperatures (ranging from
118C to 398C), which were measured at the start and end of
each flight. During each drone survey, the sea state (ranging
from 0 to 5 on the Beaufort scale) and clarity of the water (scored
from 1–5, where 1 was very poor and 5 was extremely clear) was
estimated, with scores .2 indicating that animals could be
observed from the seafloor to the surface. For each flight, the
local daytime sea-surface temperature was determined using
data sourced from Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing
System (see https://portal.aodn.org.au/search, accessed 17
December 2018).

wingnut2443's picture
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wingnut2443 commented Sunday, 3 Feb 2019 at 8:22am

@tidak_bagus thanks for that info.

Makes a mokery of the findings when the 'sample' data collection size, time and area is so fucking ridiculous.

Truth is in the detail.

Lies. Damn Lies. Statistics.

Surfboard Design and Construction Kook. Evidence is here: www.ffwsurfboards.com.au
*FFW - Few Fun Waves ... that's what it's all about for me.

tidak_bagus's picture
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tidak_bagus commented Sunday, 3 Feb 2019 at 9:25am

Well to be fair all they are doing is presenting the information they have collected. The only criticism that can and should be made is on the methodology of how they have designed the experiment. Statistically they saw very few sharks. There is no emotional component to this just observation.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Sunday, 3 Feb 2019 at 12:16pm

Thanks for that reply , Tidak Bagus.

Deffenti's picture
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Deffenti commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 12:42pm

I wonder how the got the footage on those murky (i.e. "sharky") days. Hey, but if it's a research paper from a university backed by government money, it MUST be true!

simba's picture
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simba commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 1:04pm

More smoke and mirrors.......why would anyone want to listen to pro fishermen who recon they are seeing more sharks especially whites or the helicopter pilots who fly the beaches shark spotting and recon they wouldnt bother going for a surf cause of how many sharks they are seeing ,but lets listen to somebody who flys a drone occassionally a few hundred meters along a beach in a few spots on the north coast ....joke right?

simba

wallpaper's picture
wallpaper's picture
wallpaper commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 2:16pm

yeah let's listen to you instead of some some bloody egg-headed scientist who doesn't know anything and hasn't done a day's work in his life...joke right?

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 2:27pm

or we can listen to you wallpaper ....crickets .....at least ive got some idea unlike yourself.

simba

rooftop's picture
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rooftop commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 1:25pm

What does "up to" 135 times more likely mean? Do they not have the actual dolphin to shark ratios?

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 1:26pm

A little while back I was surfing a joint near here and the shark chopper came around and proceeded to circle directly above the handful of us surfing . Quite low above us , tight circles for a few minutes after swooping over something just offshore of us. Pretty unambiguous message you’d think.

I checked dorsal watch a few days later and there was no mention of it. Other sharks at other times are documented on there though.

Pilot being a lair , failed registration or something more sinister? But you’d think it would be an imperative of the shark spotter to spot more sharks as opposed to less surely ?

spenda's picture
spenda's picture
spenda commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 1:26pm

"...say the threat of sharks is overblown..."
if you ignore the fatalities

".....135 times more likely to see a dolphin......"
and you're probably 135 times more likely to see butterflies when wandering long grass full of tiger snakes.

Tarzan71's picture
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Tarzan71 commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 1:28pm

I had the luxury of a light plane flight over Ningaloo last year, its incredible how much life can be seen from that angle. These drones may offer some degree of peace of mind, but to actually believe they might stop an attack or reduce the odds is folly at best.

Even the stats they gather would be very hit and miss depending on cyclic changes and current flows, but good on the CSIRO, at the end of the day, the boy with the most toys is the winner!!

monk's picture
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monk commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 1:47pm

This article is stupid, or at least it assumes we are stupid. The basis seems to be that shark hysteria is blown out of proportion because people always mistake dolphins for sharks when in fact there are many more dolphins than sharks in the ocean. It doesn't mention that this is completely fucking obvious to anyone who uses the ocean even semi-regularly. Seems more like a good excuse to fly their toys over the ocean and take pictures, and capitalise on the topic of shark hysteria.

fitzroy-21's picture
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fitzroy-21 commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 2:19pm

These type of articles are there to appeal to the masses, make them feel all warm and fuzzy that everything is all rosey and they can go back to the beach with peace of mind..............those that spend alot of time in and on the ocean know the truth.

mezkal's picture
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mezkal commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 3:18pm

Me mate got buzzed last week spearing in close off Geraldton by a 3.5/4 mt white. They're quite common up there now, never seen em when we were crayfishing and diving that coast 20 years ago...never. And what was it doing up there now, whales are long gone , waters 23 degrees or so, fuck. But yeh them marine biologists know it best, no evidence of a healthy increase in the population , of pointers. Lucky the pollies have em there to offer their irrefutable results. These people have blood on their hands by not taking positive action. Greens, Polllies and Marine Bios have let the community down. But they should be looking good if the govt. funding keeps rolling in, just another 3 yrs then retire hey boys. Dangerous fools the lot of em. How's Ya popcorn going there Ben, Ya gonna need a bigger bag!

scottishsponger's picture
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scottishsponger commented Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 at 7:58am

Yes, we should all listen to you and your incredible anecdotes rather than the educated people performing scientific studies. I’d take your advice over a marine biologist any day.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Sunday, 3 Feb 2019 at 12:15pm

A marine biologist infrequently flying a drone is not methodical research.

roondog's picture
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roondog commented Wednesday, 6 Feb 2019 at 9:24pm

Positive action = get rid of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

brownie48's picture
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brownie48 commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 3:57pm

Really pisses me off this type of crap

So he flys it on nice days in good conditions, what about the overcast crappy days with a bit of wind, what about dawn or late arvo, not worth going any further. Trying to justify his job or funding

So Professor Blinky Bill, explain to me why I have had more shark incidents in the last 7 years on the east coast than I have had since I started playing in the ocean in the late 1960's....

Dadboddropin's picture
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Dadboddropin commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 4:13pm

Very hard to make shark statistics relevant. I'm sure that if i go to the beach 3 times a year and go for a swim between the flags i am very unlikely to see a shark. But if i live on the coast and get wet at least twice a week...
Thanks for trying but I'm still gonna be paranoid.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 5:18pm

Look at all those rays planking together in the same direction!

Are they meditating??

blindboy's picture
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blindboy commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 5:26pm

Two years of meticulously analysed drone footage? Useless! Better have a chat to old mate at the pub if you want the drum. Ha ha ha

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 5:50pm

I went out on my lawn on twenty randomly picked occasions and stared at the sky for a few minutes at a stretch. I didn’t see any lightning- despite my meticulous staring - therefore lightning doesn’t exist.

My friend down the pub has religiously watched the weather around here for as long as he can remember and he reckons he’s seen lightning lots of times .

Who would you believe?

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 5:52pm

Meticulously analysed !

Do you genuinely believe it’s the dedication of the person who assessed the footage which is being called into question here , BB ?

Oh look , how convenient.....https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/205/Wha...

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 6:28pm

Opportunist lab rats are just getting wet behind the ears while the going is good.

Greenies got the Fisherman
Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow.Court is in session Qld Gvt v Humane Sty(GBR shark cull)
So called scientists are next.
Hopefully the greens wind back the 'Prod & Battery'... feed hours'

U.S. NOAA advise Drones 300m + 150m arrears from Sea Critters.
NOAA are pushing to expand this distance.

CASA advise Drones 300m +150m arrears from Sea Creatures.
NSW LNP has zeroed in drone invasions to target 100m of Sea Critters range.
Now add the Scientific freedoms & the geeks are all wearing Shark Suits.

NSW premier bills the North Coast as Dr Moreau's Snotbot Trail.
A world of Roger Ramjets are dive-bombing NSW Marinelife for Nobel Prize.

Nerds: "But the sea creatures don't mind the Drones!" (That's Bullshit!)

Endless vidz of animals smashing the shit out of Drones.
As a result Nature Docos rely on fake critter spy cams... Any kid knows this!
Yes! Sea creatures have flipped & disbanded as result of drones.

From Blue Planet to NSW : 'Lay down your Snotbots and pull back your Geeks.'

blindboy's picture
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blindboy commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 6:32pm

Not sure what causes people to reject the data Blowin but the level of disrespect for dedicated careful professional work is appalling. But no doubt you think you and the rest of the knockers know better because........ well that's what mystifies me. Not sure it comes from a logical fallacy. Simple arrogance seems more likely

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 7:13pm

The fact that you so readily besmirch the opinions of people who have probably spent infinitely more time studying the same stretch of water than a blowin with a hovercraft lends me to think that the lack of respect is yours.

How you’d fail to consider someone as a qualified opinion after they’ve spent thousands of hours studying something is beyond me. Particularly since you so readily accept a microscopic sample of the same visual study as representative.

You recognise that expert opinion is invaluable, it’s just that you struggle to recognise the experts unless they’ve got letters next to their name.

If the drones had been flown by punters and they’d come to the same result would you respect the outcome ? Remembering that there’s not too much inherent skill required in order to count fish off a computer screen. If the punters followed the same methodology as a University team but came up with a conflicting outcome , would you place any faith in their work ?

The reason people are dismissive , BB , is because government policy and choices which affect those who live on these coastlines are decided based on research such as this , so it’s not surprising that when there is any perceived weakness in the research that crew speak out.

The researchers shouldn’t get upset , we know they’re only capable of so much and we realise the current limits of scientific research , but in a political environment as emotionally charged as one which literally affects the lives of people and their families, its expected that stakeholders should not wish to settle for anything less than that which is utterly conclusive.

Politicians love a headline around which to base their loaded decisions , so accuracy is paramount.

blindboy's picture
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blindboy commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 7:29pm

Yep I besmirched the reputations of several anonymous commentators who had previously besmirched the reputation of a respected academic.

Previous post demonstrates
https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/92/Fals...

Hastoes's picture
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Hastoes commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 7:35pm

Awesome reply Blowin

aj

monk's picture
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monk commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 7:44pm

I think it is the lazy reporting from ABC that I have a problem with here (NB I am generally a big fan ABC, especially when compared to other news reporting outlets) - not necessarily the research. Using drones to assess ecosystem health and species diversity is something I would generally agree with (notwithstanding the corrections that would need to be made for low-visibility days/depths/nighttime etc). The sensationalist reporting and the far-reaching and frankly absurd claims linking this research to shark safety is where I draw the line...

wingnut2443's picture
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wingnut2443 commented Sunday, 3 Feb 2019 at 8:20am

"Not sure what causes people to reject the data Blowin but the level of disrespect for dedicated careful professional work is appalling." (@blindboy)

My $0.02 worth of "why" and the basis of my rejection and disdain is pretty fucking simple (I'm sure I've posted this on here before too) ... The 'dedicated careful professional' has a history of getting it very fucking wrong:

- Asbestos anyone? What did those 'scientific' dedicated professionals have to say about it, and for how many fucking years? The environmental damage and impact on humans is atrocious.

- Nicotine / Cigarettes ... yeah, again, told for years by the 'dedicated professionals' that there was no fucking harm. Yeah right?

- Thalidomide ... another of the fuck ups by the 'dedicated professionals' which has caused permanent long term damage to people.

Scientists are IMO, akin to 'prostitutes' with their research findings having the miraculous ability to prove a 'theory' linked to the funding behind said research. It's fucking disgraceful and society suffers.

Now, what about sunscreens hey? Another rabbit hole ...

Show me some independent, unbiased funded, non-political funded research into this whole shark situation, and well, we may have a chance of getting to the fucking truth. As freeride76 has stated on here numerous times, the historical data has never been correct, the basis for policy decisions flawed. Now we have all this ongoing bullshit 'research' to justify the incorrect decisions and hide the truth.

I'll take an old sea dogs knowledge and experience over any academic research everyday, any day. When blokes who have gone to sea their entire life are saying the shark numbers and encounters are exponentially increasing, it's time to wake up and listen. When those same blokes get angry and frustrated (and vocal) with decisions to bury whales on beaches, it's time to listen.

Fuck, it wasn't that long ago the 'dedicated professionals' were saying the East and West coast white shark populations were separate, and yet, now as we know from both tagging and DNA testing the populations in fact interact - a FACT exposed by many many old sea dogs, having caught and cut open white sharks to find stomach contents of food sources only found in the other locations.

So, yeah blindboy there is disdain for the 'dedicated professional' who produces research and findings skewed to the funding sources motives. History is full of it.

I'm sure there are 'dedicated professionals' with ethics and moral fortitude to resist the funding temptation(s). I'd love to see research from them, and more so, their outright condemnation of their own industry. Until then, my disdain remains.

Surfboard Design and Construction Kook. Evidence is here: www.ffwsurfboards.com.au
*FFW - Few Fun Waves ... that's what it's all about for me.

Dan K's picture
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Dan K commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 7:34pm

As someone pointed out on the Dorsal FB page on this article, it's so flawed. How can this guy claim hundreds of flights before spotting a shark if the DPI chopper around Bryon/Ballina (and shark buoy) record them sometimes daily? Throws his comment straight out.
I'm not sure where this guy is flying exactly to get so little sightings, but down here in Forster (where we have our own healthy white population) I've had 10 drone flights along Tuncurry Beach with 9 of those flights spotting a white 30m off the beach in 2m of water. Someone mentioned above the ability to spot sharks deeper being an issue, and for sure it is - even on a gin clear-water day flying with a polariser to cut the glare on the surface I reckon a shark would need to be in the top 3m of water, otherwise there's little hope, but as i mentioned none that i saw were in water very deep

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 7:36pm

So your data from Forster discredits his data from Byron. Run that one past peer review!

Dan K's picture
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Dan K commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 7:41pm

No mate I'm simply comparing one nursery zone to another. The part I don't understand which another punter on the Dorsal FB mentioned is how can his comment of "hundreds of flights before a sighting" have any merit compared to the listening stations and active pilots reporting in the area?
A healthy conversation man, I'm not after a keyboard arm wrestle

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scottishsponger commented Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 at 8:19am

It’s the same old ignorant mentality where the bloke down the pub who’s spent his life fishing must know more than someone performing rigorous, scientific research. It’s the common mistrust of educated people where belief is placed in anecdotes from old mate, over proven data from repeatable studies. It’s impossible to argue against. They don’t accept facts - more facts just entrench them further into their myopic world view.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Sunday, 3 Feb 2019 at 12:14pm

You realise that a large portion of the established base population of white pointers was based on information supplied by fishermen and divers , don’t you ?

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Sunday, 3 Feb 2019 at 1:08pm

That kind of information can be useful. If the location, date, time and the shark's features are recorded then it is really well and truly out of the anecdote pile and in with whatever other data is available.
My understanding though is that until 12 months ago there was no reliable estimate of Great White numbers around Australia. The link below gives the estimates derived from DNA studies of the degree of relatedness of a sample of juveniles. This is based on the fact that larger populations will show greater variation. The numbers may move a little with further study but, in the absence of any other reliable data, they are a huge step forward in understanding the size of the populations.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-09/great-white-shark-numbers-stable-...

tubeshooter's picture
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tubeshooter commented Sunday, 3 Feb 2019 at 9:16pm

Most states these days give commercial fishermen separate log books for interactions with all endangered species , and have done so for many years now. All the data you mentioned is required to be logged , especially in QLD.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 7:51pm

Blindboy, listen to the man.

He said the DPI's tagging, aerial observation and listening station data contradict the above study, or at least the reporting of it.

Not anecdote, not old mate at the pub.

Actual scientific data.

For someone who purports to have an understanding of how the scientific method works, you sure do seem deliberately obscurantist sometimes.

Dan K's picture
Dan K's picture
Dan K commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 7:57pm

That's it.
If two studies are done, one being a prolonged DPI conducted aerial surveillance covering 100s of kms along the coast comes up with one result, that is compared to that taken by a scientist on a drone which covers 2-4kms on a 27min battery I know which data I think would be the more accurate.......then throw in the tagging stations data on top.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 8:16pm

Fair enough. I was pissed off with the disrespect shown to what is valuable data in its own right and, as earlier comments show, people are always keen to rank anecdotal evidence above actual data.

fitzroy-21's picture
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fitzroy-21 commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 10:28am

BB, I’m no scholar, but it is really hard to accept this data/research as “evidence” and “fact”. For myself that has spent hours/days/weeks and months on the water, year after year, it just completely contradicts what is seen with our own eyes. As much as I haven’t been spending as much time on the water over the last few years, I still speak regularly with my peers, both commercial and charter, that are constantly out there on the ocean and their observations are the same. Some are constantly asking researchers to come out with them and see it first hand only to be ignored, whilst the tourist operators are given massive air time in both print and TV.
I am more than happy to be proven wrong, but I would rather see it by multiple researchers from different fields of expertise all in agreeance, than one or a few flying a drone for short periods during the day.

Santosha's picture
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Santosha commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 8:25pm

Whether there are more sharks or not, it is what it is and you can't change it. Like Greenough says, if you see a big white paddle straight toward it stick your head underwater and stare it down .
Turn and run away, it may chase you down like most wild predators . Better still act friendly and blow it etheric love, it may even come up and let you pat it on the nose .

mattmac's picture
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mattmac commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 6:09pm
tubeshooter's picture
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tubeshooter commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 8:31pm

A lot of the data regarding other shark programs is freely available to the public. It's hard to judge this data without seeing it. Which leaves many questions to me regarding methodology , analysis and "proof" etc .
And yearly numbers of sharks and shark attacks in certain regions doesn't seem to follow any specific pattern in general... 2 years and these guys have 'proof' . Bullshit .
I wonder how many they might have spotted a few years earlier.
https://hoveruav.com.au/drone-shark-detection-trial-results-redhead-beac...
yes its from another area but was part of the same nsw trial.

Coaster's picture
Coaster's picture
Coaster commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 8:44pm

Two years? Did this period coincide with the time that shark nets were deployed in those areas? Perhaps it supports the position that shark nets work.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 8:48pm

500 odd sightings from 93000km of helicopter flights? So let’s say one sighting for every 180km. Obviously never got to Tuncurry!

Dan K's picture
Dan K's picture
Dan K commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 11:08pm

hahahaha!
And that's a flaw in the drone data I guess. Without any of us needing to be scientists I think we can at least agree that these juvenile whites in particular are condensed in certain areas, but even more so certain beaches. Tuncurry Beach is a long beach which is busy in the very southern end then barron for the remainder. Over Spring holidays last year the DPI recorded a white, sometimes 2 or 3 sharks on the one pass along this beach every day of the school holidays. One Mile Beach, which is only a km away recorded one shark by DPI and for memory it was a whaler. Brings me back to the point about the drone data - if that guy is at a beach which doesn't seem to be the "hang out" for these whites then the data isn't as useful, coz the beach 2kms up the road might be the one they are at daily. If he is in the right spot, then either he or the pilot are reporting the wrong sightings.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 8:37am

That was the helicopter data from the entire coast which would seem to be in broad agreement with the drone data from the study and the low yearly average of NSW attacks.

Dan K's picture
Dan K's picture
Dan K commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 9:53am

If that's the helicopter data then so be it. It still doesn't explain though how hundreds of drone flights registered no sharks but the helicopter and listening stations in the same location picked them up a few times a week.
Some helpful info would be are we to assume that hundreds of drone flights is one a day? Because that means he sees 1.8 sharks a year......which is just a tad low compared to the other methods of tracking/spotting being used.
Or be more realistic and he's probably got 4 drone batteries therefore 4 flights a day, or 28 flights in a week. To come to the conclusion that it takes a couple hundred drone flights until they see a shark means 4 flights a day for 7-8 weeks straight.......really? Even that timeline doesn't match the other data provided by helicopters and tagging stations.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 10:32am

Yeh you could drill down into the data but my guess would be that it is too variable and there is too little of it to come to any conclusion beyond what we already know from the attack data. Shark attacks are very rare. A real point of interest for me is the clustering of attacks in time and space. It would be great to be able to predict when and where such events were likely to take place. With that information, shark attacks on surfers in Australia could drop to near zero.

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 9:30pm

I respect the data for what it is.

To counter it, you could poll a large group of older, frequent ocean users, and see how many have been bitten. Everyone start putting your hand up now. [insert cricket noises here]

I don’t dispute it feels spooky, or that the chances are indeed increasing because numbers have increased. I just agree with the data, that it’s a one in a million chance, or there abouts. Maybe I need to read the article again. I don’t think it mentioned any advice of not taking any action to mitigate risk, more just point out that it ain’t that bad.
135-1 sounds about right I reckon. Of all of those 1’s, despite being incredibly spooky, no direct threat was experienced by myself. They just swim on by don’t they?

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 9:50pm

Good to have the study as a data point. Given the discourse (has Ben had his fill of popcorn yet?) I'd suggest for a more complete picture, go multidisciplinary - include the tag buoys, the smart drumline captures, helicopter sighting data, dorsal data, the genetic population data (handy to have a baseline, 25 years after protection) public submissions (gasp! may include having to interview the public!), and the multi year fishing diaries of long time fishermen, who are the ones working the area most often. If they would give you access. If some of you remember, it was a 30 year study of diving records on the Gt Barrier reef that inferred important climate and speciation changes over that time (gasp! Someone's anecdotes!)

Then, understand and interpret over the multiple sources like a true polymath, put the whole picture together. Everyone has specialised so much in their professional training, where is the ability to synthesize the big picture from multiple varying fields? Rant over

old man of the sea's picture
old man of the sea's picture
old man of the sea commented Thursday, 31 Jan 2019 at 10:09pm

Not sure of the official number of dolphin related deaths / attacks but both this data and a note on the relative populations sizes is required for this to make any scientific sense at all.
I used to regularly see 40+ dolphins a day at Tuncurry, so over a week I had a couple of shark encounters? (Quite possibly) Now I'm on the Sunny Coast and see dolphins about as often as sharks - does this mean dolphins are endangered or that inter-species ratios as a measurement of risk are up there with tea leaves?
Agree with the consensus of click bait / job justification. How much was spent re-proving there are more dolphins in the east coast than sharks? Who's marketing budget did this one come out of?

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 2:18am

SLS NSW only close beaches for threatening sharks. eg : (Not Hammer Heads).
Following stats represent Large inshore Sharks considered a threat...(Not all sharks).

[ BEACH CLOSED ] Due to Sharks at Ballina Beach (Only)
Dated 2018 Nov (Attack) to 2019 Jan' end 'Today'

Attack Nov 6th
Closures due to Sharks...
Nov 6th/7th/10th/18th
Dec 18th x 2/19th/22nd/26th/28th
Jan 1st/3rd/14th/19th/23rd

2018-19 (15 evacuations in past 3 months) from lone renowned NSW Sharky beach.
Tubeshooter's link- DPI Sept 2016-Jan'17(78 evacuations in 5 months) NSW whole.
Swellnetonians can read these rare [ BEACH CLOSED ] stats anyway they please.
(Stats by Google search returned said 2018-19 base tally several times over).
Feel free to add more dates...

Note: Computer Age dreams up more reasons to close beaches more often for longer.

" One Grom Wavepool Ticket Please !"
' I think you mean a $2,999 Pensioner ticket ... Sir !'
" *#@%!" "You!" "*%#@!"

Plan B: Was it 6 or 7 seconds to cross under the Wavepool Guard Tower Death Ray?

Dean Mc's picture
Dean Mc's picture
Dean Mc commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 6:01am

I have heard of a white pointer taking multiple speed runs in shallow water, at peoples legs whilst swimming between the flags during peak holiday season. This story of the sharks approach and exit at a 90 degree angle back out to sea, is a little disturbing because I had already seen this happen in the exact location a few years back. This shark is most likely playing around like a dolphin in my opinion, but one day this could all go wrong.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 2:33pm

Interesting Dean. In April 2016 a 6ft or so baby white lined me up on a local beachbreak. It was a day with mixed sun and cloud, and there was a lot of weed in the water from recent onshores. The shape of the shark was unmistakable in the oncoming wave (I marveled at the economy of movement and relative speed). The shark did exactly this type of approach, and the 90 degree turn away I also noticed.

So if I was facing directly out to sea, it approached from the right on a 45 degree incline to my direction of view (and the beach), checked me out within about a carlength or two, then did the 90 degree turn and exited away from the beach at a 45 degree angle away to the left.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 2:41pm

Are you going to describe your exit vj?

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 2:45pm

Yes it was the typical loss of higher mind control, turn and catch next wave in, look back to see its exit. Then I realised there were 2 others out about 60m up the beach, so had to paddle back out to tell them.

Terminal's picture
Terminal's picture
Terminal commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 10:19am

Hey Ben, could you pass the popcorn...

Robo's picture
Robo's picture
Robo commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 11:00am

Imagine if there was as many sharks as dolphins, low crowds.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 11:27am

That would do it Robo! Of course the local surfers would never talk up the risk of attack to keep crowds down. Just wouldn't happen!

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 12:04pm

My personal data I can contribute -

Number of years surfing: 39
Average days per year: 250

Estimated times in water: 9,750
Shark interactions: 6

1 in 1990 surfing Three Bears, WA
5 surfing Byron/Ballina 2016/17

Seems an irregular cluster to me.

mattmac's picture
mattmac's picture
mattmac commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 6:06pm

I think you've hit the nail on the head - and I'm sure there's probably other times a shark has swam past looking for "real" prey. Its horrible when an attack does happen but as surfers/divers etc we know the risk every time we enter the water but that risk is far lower than simply driving to the beach. You can put out more drumlines/kill more sharks but does it really make you feel any safer?

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 1:41pm

Well after 45 years surfing, fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, watching the ocean and walking by the ocean I saw my first 100% definite shark sighting the other day.

I have seen distant splashes near bait fish 1 km away, (most likely sharks and dolphins where another guy saw a shark just after I left the water at dusk), a probably grey fin at snapper for a second 100 metres away and a large stationary torpedo shape 20 meters away that I assumed was weed until next time I looked it was gone. But have seen heaps of dolphins - who happen to breathe air.
So the ratios shark to dolphin sighting in the research may well be right.

BUT, the big revelation drone footage has added to us all is that sharks, including big whites cruise the surf line far more than we ever thought. I used to think they were mainly way out "there" somewhere in deeper water where the fishos go for bigger fish. This is true but far more hug the coast than I expected and cruise close to surfers and swimmers.

This is good and bad. Risks of encounters or an unseen cruise by are way higher than I thought until about a decade ago. However, they clearly are far less likely to attack humans on sight than I assumed.

On balance my sense of safety has dropped. I remember surfing around the Torquay reefs years ago out alone at Boobs and pretty much believed that there were no sharks around the Bells area. How wrong I was. But how much extra fun my ignorance gave me before the internet.

Frogg

spencie's picture
spencie's picture
spencie commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 4:04pm

I lived in the Byron Bay area for 30 years up until early 2000s. Would personally have averaged shark(s) sightings about one surf in three or four in all that time. Until the fatal attack on Marty Ford at Tallows (1980 I think) there were no other attacks on surfers that I am aware of. It's only about 6 years ago that it started getting much more dangerous in the waters around the Far North Coast. Always lots of dolphins and plenty of sharks in the annual mullet run but the sharks didn't appear to be interested in surfers. Plenty of theories around but no definite factual evidence.. Please explain...

easterly

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 9:40pm

Blindboy mentions the 'clustering' of attacks , and rightly so .
The scientests are credible ..The data is also valuable ,,though , If I may say, somewhat flawed with a probable high human error ratio given that it relies on 'sightings' by fly overs on narrow strips of water , whether its by helicopter or drone. It's not like they hover over any specific area for a lengthy period of time scanning your local for nasties.
And of course your going to see more air breathing cetaceans than sharks by aerial surveillance ,not all shark attacks come from sharks stalking the shorebreak, but are attracted from deeper water and from much stealthier cover. Drones and helicopter spotters can't see everything.
Correlating this data with other research would've been smarter than making the claim they have regarding proof and statistics . As a stand alone shark data program they have fuck all . Surveillance and monitoring maybe ,

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Friday, 1 Feb 2019 at 11:42pm

It pays to look at the bigger picture.
It seems public have Drone Fever. My older brother swears they can save the World.
(NSW Govt Drones) are ignoring CASA Rules driven by Popular Vote.
NSW Drones can swoop critters 5x closer than other state pilots but How & Why?

If a homeless drone can shutdown the biggest airport for days...
It should be a piece of piss to rule the seven seas.
Meanwhile surfers are towel flicking drones outta their WSR line-ups

NSW DPI reflects this Hypnotoad mass Flymo Worship.

[Prefered public Shark measures]
(1) Research
(2) Drones (90%) WTF
(3) Education
(4) Responsibility
(5) Detection
(6) Helicopter
(7) Drumlines
(8) Nets

Should explain NSW Govt (Drone Addiction)....A vote winner!
NSW LNP [ VOTE #1 ] Drones dive-bombing Sharks ( Fuck Yeah! ) > >(100%)

(Pause)
Bronzed Oz Sharks must be less popular than Indo Pacific Boat Dolphins.(Crikey!)

Hardly matters if the Drone has batteries or not, just give the people what they want!

https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/826137/Second-sha...

[ BEACH CLOSED ] Continued from Ballina (re: Above)
Nov 2018 - Jan (end) 2019
Nov 25th
Dec 26th x2 / 28th
Jan 2nd/9th/14th/16th/26th
[ BEACH CLOSED ] Byron Bay Total (9)
Add the Ballina Total (15)
I can only add (1) Closure during (Sept /Oct 8 - Byron Bay)(Due to Off Season Patrols)

Tubeshooter's link
DPI -(Sept- Jan) 78 evacuations (Statewide) v 25 evacuations (Ballina/Byron)
I noted approx (10) closures ... Ballina < (Various) >Tweed for same period.
Shouldn't be too hard to round Stats up if needed. (Run with Ballina North 35 of 78)
Pretty much confirms Sharks prefer surfing the North Coast shorebreaks.

Ben moves onto the harder stuff...Cracking open the Lollygobbleblissbombs!

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 at 1:13am

Truebluebasherz (North Coast Surfers Sharky Joke Book)

1970's A sick Gold Coast Surfers Joke!
We Gold Coasters were to brand all amputees as Byron Bay Shark Food.
(No Joke!)
Was rambling with a one arm cripple (kneeboarder)
Where are you from mate!
"Byron!"
How did you lose your arm?
"Shark!"
You can't laugh even if you tried....Was never supposed to be real...Some Joke!

1970's Sick Ballina Surfers Joke.
A pack of Bull Sharks ruled the North Wall.
We Gold Coasters would tuck our legs up each time the shadow come near!
Ballina Crew would laugh saying that their Pet Sharks don't bite.
Tough day at the Office!

North Coast was cursed with sharks back in the 1970's...
1970's Byron/Ballina/Black Rocks/Kingy Back Beach were surfers Shark Hot Spots.

Byron's BLOOD & GUTZ... You bet! Surfbreak was 10 x more Sharky than it sounds!
Town's abattoir used to feed a slurry of Blood & Gutz to the Sharks each arvo.
Sharks would circle the break earning their Work for the Dole handout!

Used to keep the numbers down at the nearby 'Wreck'.

I was surprised to find a pretty good wrap that nods (Blood & Gutz)... Here it's yours!
https://www.surfseek.net/byron-bay-surf-spots-local-guide/

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 at 10:23am

Byron Bay - Blood/n/Gutz slurry pipe/site/break + Whaling + Piggery (Shark Heaven)
Blood'n'Gutz (meatworks) Closed in 1983
https://byronbayhistoricalsociety.org.au/development-of-byron-bay/popula...

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 at 10:56am

TBB,awesome find mate, some of those old photos are epic and just show what was done to the beaches etc especially the destuction from sand mining.

simba

kookfactor's picture
kookfactor's picture
kookfactor commented Tuesday, 5 Feb 2019 at 10:01pm

Thanks for the links TBB, legendary stuff, keep up the no holds barred approach. huge.

theblacksheep's picture
theblacksheep's picture
theblacksheep commented Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 at 10:34am

I’m just jealous of these guys that get taxpayers money to fly helicopters and drones up and down the coast all day.

Sick job checking all the good banks (maybe we can ask for the footage to be streamed so we can “verify the stats” publically - or a new Swellnet cam?).

Can’t imagine a press release saying “Sorry didn’t see anything or prevent anything but keep giving us money”

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 at 11:16am

theblacksheep is bang on the money.
NSW SLS Little Ripper Range gets up to all sorts of mischief. { tbb salutes SLSA }
First ditched in mid Pacific returning home to default manufacturer HQ .
2nd was busted upskirting local Helicopters @ Ballina Airport
The Fake Rescue Ripper ditched into ocean the very next Gig. Kidz buy a Lotto Ticket!

1st Rescue / 1st Drown Victim Search /1st Surf Corpse perv & fetch assist.
Ist Sharky Drone trials parts 1-20...WR Headlines the Pollie's Flyers (Fuck the roads!)
NSW Drones 1-10 in Govt Top 40 ...Beep! Beep! "Excuse me Sir!" Drone [P] Zone...

Punters pray Jimmy Sparks can remote control microchipped pet 'Gigantor' Shark.

http://randomactsofgeekery.blogspot.com/2012/09/geek-tv-gigantor.html

https://www.dynnexdrones.com/products/dji-spark-mini-drone-fly-more-comb...

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 at 9:16pm

For those interested , this pdf is related to NSW DPI and the 'new and emerging mitigation and deterrent measures'...

https://www.aph.gov.au/.../Senate/.../Sharkmitigation/.../Sharkmitigatio...
" Sorry seems to be a bad link , I'll try to find another"" my bad
otherwise google , 'new and emerging mitigation and deterrent measures , nsw dpi' It should be at the top of the page...

heres a different one with some more details , but you have to scroll down to section 73
https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/other/11754/Answers%20to%20supp...

Albertinelli's picture
Albertinelli's picture
Albertinelli commented Saturday, 2 Feb 2019 at 9:33pm

I still believe that to be attacked by a shark is like being hit by a Bus in the street, and there are a Hell of a lot of buses in your suburb than Sharks at your local Break. Get out there and have some Balls.

Gazbomb's picture
Gazbomb's picture
Gazbomb commented Monday, 4 Feb 2019 at 12:15pm

Oh goody. Now when can we start using drones to shoot bloody great sharks?