Marine Neuroecologist and UWA PhD student Ryan Kempster joined forces with SPICE to tour the Great Southern as part of the Travelling Scientist program to put to rest some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding sharks. During his time in Albany he presented a UWA Albany Skywest lecture and shared some of the findings from his research.
Shark populations are in trouble in Australia and around the world with up to 73 million sharks are killed every year to satisfy an insatiable and unsustainable appetite for shark's fin soup. Removing sharks from the ocean ecosystems, although complex and rather unpredictable, are likely to be ecologically and economically devastating.
As more people venture out and enjoy the oceans, the chance of someone encountering a shark increases. Ryan's research involves understanding how sharks are able to sense and locate objects (prey!) through their electrosensory capabilities. If we can understand how sharks respond to electric fields in their natural environment then we can start to think about, and hopefully develop, appropriate repellent devices to keep us safer in the water.
From surfers to divers, the potential worldwide applications in improving public safety as well as conserving shark populations for future generations will provide benefits for everyone. The effects of removing sharks from our oceans, although unpredictable, are likely to be ecologically and economically damaging.
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) 6488 3229 / 0400 700 783
Paula Phillips (UWA Albany Centre) 9842 0810