A big shoutout today to Tara Calashain whose ResearchBuzz newsletter keeps us in the know about all things useful, wonderful and sometimes, downright weird, in this vast universe we call the World Wide Web.
This morning veteran researcher Calashain gave us a heads-up about a creative use of Twitter Down Under. She mentioned a SkyNewsHD story that highlights a shark alert service for surfers in Western Australia.
Here's how it works: 320+ sharks, including great whites, have been outfitted with transmitters that monitor their movements up and down the coast. When a tagged shark swims within roughly a kilometre of a beach, it triggers an alert that a software application then turns into a tweet at Surf Life Saving Western Australia's (SLSWA) Twitter feed (@SLSWA). Twitter users find out the shark's breed, size and approximate location and can use this information to decide whether to surf or swim elsewhere.
Here in northern California, surfcasters may not be inclined to venture out past the water's edge. However wading out for striped bass is not uncommon. Rogue and sneaker waves can surprise even the most attentive of casters, pulling them into the surf. Or casters may even unwittingly reel in a great white shark, as this surfcaster documented in our featured video (see above).
We don't know of any program that already tags sharks on the Pacific Coast. If there is such a program, it would be great if it could turn our resident sharks into as voluble tweeters as our land-living residents, giving surfcasters, surfers, beach combers and swimmers alike 140 characters that could potentially save their lives.