Despite the fact you're far more likely to die by, I dunno, slipping on a banana peel and heatbutting a pair of scissors, we're sort of in the midst of a shark panic in Australia. Reasonable behaviour in the wake of a shark related fatality, but goddamn if this is the last thing we need now — real life sharks on Twitter? SOMEONE MAKE IT STOP!
But it's actually good news.
Despite the fact that shark attacks are very, very rare, Australia still has more of them compared to any other country. A new system has been set up in Western Australia that tweets out a message on the Surf Life Saving WA twitter page whenever a shark comes within half a mile of a beach.
Fisheries advise: tagged Tiger shark detected at 1.5km off Scarborough receiver at 06:37:00 AM on 3-Jan-2014
— Surf Life Saving WA (@SLSWA) January 2, 2014
It seems pretty specific. The message seems surprisingly loaded with detail: the size of the shark, the type. The above tweet for example refers to a tiger shark. Pretty impressive.
It's a set-up that's aiding researchers and folks that want to head to the beach without being attacked by a rogue shark, but part of me can't help wondering if the move will fuel shark panic to unnecessary heights.
In the wake of fatal shark attacks in November, there have been plans to actually bait sharks and kill them. Which seems absolutely extreme considering how rare the attacks actually are. It's always difficult when humans are attacked and killed by sharks, but I'm not sure this is the correct course of action.
Hopefully this new twitter system will just be a helpful reminder that a slight danger exists, not added fuel to a pitchfork party ala Steven Spielberg's Jaws.