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With 'Shark Week' Imminent, Look Forward to the Great-White-Warning SMS System

a shark tag sensor on the ocean floor
Steven Spielberg's 'Jaws' saw its 35th anniversary last month, and your writer reignited an irrational, but very real, childhood galeophobia by re-watching the entire toothy franchise just before a July 4th trip to the beach. It didn't help matters that the original Jaws (yes, we know, fictional) attacks occurred around Independence Day on Amity Island, and that the real-life Coast Guard issued a warning about carcharodon on the Eastern seaboard just after a great white was caught off of Massachusetts earlier that week. Needless to say, your writer was wary of the water. Perhaps he would've felt better had the Long Island lifeguards come equipped with a shark-warning texting system.

And that's exactly what researchers at Western Australia's Department of Fisheries are trying to set up. Tagging sharks and other marine life is nothing new (as evidenced by Dr. Hooper and Quint's tag-and-barrel system), but the Australian tags come with 20 satellite-linked buoys and 50 sensors on the ocean floor that relay the whereabouts of 75 great whites to some kind of Jaws-watch HQ. In addition to providing behavioral information about these little-understood apex predators, the system can send lifeguards an emergency text when one of the voracious animals swims within a quarter mile or so of a coastal buoy.

While that is only a small comfort to your writer, the new tracking system could shed light on the curious behaviors of the great white. For example, in 1997, an orca attacked and killed a great white -- an exceptionally rare occurrence -- off of California's Farallon Islands. Almost immediately after the attack, the area's entire great white population vanished; one tagged shark among them dove over 1,600 feet down, and promptly swam to Hawaii.

This writer is of the opinion that we should respect and honor great whites, which don't especially like the taste of humans since they're not as fatty as seals (yet). They merely check us with "test bites" to figure out what that thing is floating amongst their aquatic buffet. That's why we should continue to monitor them from afar, encourage the death-seeking marine biologists to jump into their diving cages, and let the rest of us wade peacefully in knee-high water. As Dr. Hooper so elegantly said, "I'm not going to waste my time arguing with a man who's lining up to be a hot lunch." We've embedded a fun video of sharks at play below to remind you of their ocean dominance. [From: PopSci]

Tags: australia, CoastGuard, GreatWhite, GreatWhiteShark, jaws, nature, science, sharks, sms, Texting, top

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