Sharks Now Tweet When Approaching the Beach

Turning transmitter data into Twitter alerts

Headshot of David Griner

It used to be that when you wanted to warn ocean-goers about shark-infested waters, the only solution was to send a panicked Roy Scheider running down the beaches. But this system largely proved unscalable, particularly after the Jaws star died in 2008.

Thankfully, Twitter is up to the task. A group called Surf Life Saving Western Australia has connected transmitters on tagged sharks to an automated Twitter warning system. The resulting tweets (see examples below) warn surfers and beachgoers about the size, breed and location of sharks that come within a kilometer of the shore.

According to The Drum, about 320 sharks are tagged, and the information provided from their transmitters was previously reported by newspaper or radio, creating a considerable delay in getting the information to those who need it.

"You might not have got some of that information until the following day in which case the hazard has long gone and the information might not be relevant," program coordinator Chris Peck told Sky News. "Now it's instant information."

Along with automated detection, the service also includes manually reported shark sightings:

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."