All Lennox Head residents, especially local surfers, are invited to join a volunteer shark spotting program which is being established on the north coast of NSW.
Based on a successful South African model, the local organisation, to be called Shark Watch, aims to provide an effective warning system that alerts swimmers and surfers to the presence of sharks. Lennox Headland will be one of the first locations selected for the program.
Using polarized sunglasses, scopes and binoculars, trained spotters scan the ocean looking for sharks. When a shark is sighted within close proximity to shore, a simple flag system and a siren will alert those in the water to leave. A warning flag will remain in place until the coast is considered ‘clear’, which means people arriving at the beach will be aware that a shark has been sighted. It is also planned to use drones in the local program to increase coverage and effectiveness.
After initial training of volunteers, the Shark Watch program will be rolled out on beaches between Ballina and Lennox Head.
‘This is a proven, non-lethal method of shark control,’ says Shark Watch spokesperson, Andrew Nieuwenhof. ‘The program has been operating successfully in Cape Town, South Africa, since 2004.
‘In that time more than 2000 shark sightings have been recorded, but with so much shark activity there have been only two shark incidents, in both cases, after warnings were ignored.’
A vital part of the Shark Watch program is that volunteers will be trained in emergency response in the event of a shark bite.
‘While Shark Watch is aimed at reducing interactions between sharks and humans, it can never be 100% effective or accurate, and entering the ocean is always at an individual’s own risk.’
Contact Andrew Nieuwenhof on 0468 740 019.