Researchers at The University of Western Australia today welcomed the State Government announcement of $6.85m over four years for shark mitigation education and research, and the opportunity to work more closely with other organisations on the issue.
Associate Professor Nathan Hart and WA Premier's Fellow and Winthrop Professor Shaun Collin, who leads the Neuroecology Group at UWA, are world leaders in shark sensory biology and are already developing shark attack deterrent wetsuits in a project co-funded by local WA company Dunbar Harper and the WA Government. Today's funding announcement could extend this research to explore new types of sensory deterrents.
"If we can predict how sharks will see certain objects in the water, we can begin to predict how they will react under certain circumstances and we can even begin to manipulate their behaviour," Associate Professor Hart said.
The Oceans Institute has already engaged with key stakeholders in the government, business and wider community through an invitation-only shark mitigation research meeting in Scarborough earlier this month. The purpose of the meeting was to hear major concerns arising from the recent spate of fatal shark attacks along the WA coastline and identify areas of research that can be addressed with existing and new areas of expertise at UWA.
Professor Collin welcomed the WA Government's strong commitment to innovative ocean research.
"We hope the State Government will continue to support research to help respond to the challenges we face while working to protect and develop the world's oceans for the benefit of humanity," he said.
Winthrop Professor Shaun Collin (UWA Oceans Institute) (+61 8) 6488 2632
Research Associate Professor Nathan S. Hart (UWA School of Animal (+61 8) 6488 3960
Biology, UWA Oceans Institute)
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 00 700 783