OF all the many natural wonders on the Hunter’s doorstep, the magnificent great white shark nursery of Port Stephens may rate high on the scale of the ones we sometimes wish to ignore.
If only to allow us to enjoy the other gems from Mother Nature –from the beaches and surf to popular diving spots and the wonderful Broughton Island.
But the nursery, which stretches from Stockton Bight and along the coastline north of Hawks Nest, remains an extremely important part of the wider ecosystem.
And it may also hold akey in helping to decrease the growing number of shark attacks along another of the state’s “shark alleys” on the north coast.
Scientists will begin trialling new shark–detecting sonar technology in the great white shark nursery off Port Stephens this week to determine whether it can be relied upon.
It works bydetecting sharks swimming past, and then send an SMS message to lifesavers on the beach.
A series of cameras will be placed with the buoys atPort Stephens toconfirm if the swimming objects detected by the sonar are sharks, and not big fish.
If the technology works, it could be another weapon for the State Government in the fight to keep our beaches safe.
And it may also be a win for the apex predators.
That is because there has been some negativity about the controversial approaches of the Baird Government’sNSW Shark Management Strategy, including the introduction of 100 “smart”drumlineson the North Coast, as well as introducing legislation to allow a trial of mesh nets.
However, some groups claim the approaches pose significant to other marine life,such as turtles and dolphins.
The Greens have continuously said mesh nets could notguarantee public safety and there hadbeen 21 shark encounters on netted beaches in the past 23 years.
It is a difficult balancing act to keep the beaches as safe as possible as well as protecting marine life. So modern technology should be used at every possible opportunity.
We already have trials ofshark-spotting drones at selected beaches, includingRedhead, and there are buoys at Redhead and Hawks Nest released only last week to detect sharks which have been tagged.