It seems that Twitter has finally found a legitimate purpose, besides being a medium for celebrities to broadcast inane comments or people to announce things that no one else cares about.
No it seems Twitter has made itself useful, and in a most unexpected place: the beach. Why the beach? Because there are sharks there…
On the Lookout
Western Australia has become the deadliest place on the globe for shark attacks. Since last year, six people have been killed and the number seems to be on the rise.
Rather than engage in a panic induced shark extermination, Australians have responded in a novel fashion. A group named Surf Life Saving Western Australia has tagged 320 sharks with transmitters. When they cross a specified line, they go off.
The transmitter signals a receiver on shore that then sends out a warning tweet on Twitter. The tweet gives details such as the breed of the shark, the time it set off the alarm, and the shark’s approximate location.
The tweets work based on the transmitter as well as lifeguard patrols and helicopter sightings. The Twitter feed also provides important information like rescue missions and beach closures, including those closed due to shark spottings.
The shark sighting Twitter system is hardly full proof. If you’re already out in the water when a shark tweet is sent, unless you have a waterproof smartphone, you’re not going to benefit much.
Still, it’s an innovative approach to keeping swimmers and surfers safe. The alternatives—not going in the water or hunting down all the sharks—are neither feasible nor wise.
In spite of the rise in shark related deaths, fatalities from shark attacks are still very rare. According to figures from National Geographic, people have a one in 3.7 million chance of being killed by a shark. Hopefully, with shark Twitter, those chances will decrease more.