Despite the fact that fatal shark attacks happen at an average of six per year, per Science Daily — people are still, like, really concerned about them.
In the past, shark-attack prevention usually came in gruesome ways that involved killing lots of sharks in the hope that none would swim too close to people.
Fortunately, this new shark-attack prevention tool is poised to be more effective for humans — and less deadly for sharks.
What's a Clever Buoy, you may ask?
According to the company's website, it's "an ocean-monitoring platform" that uses sonar to identify sharks that might be swimming a little too close for comfort.
It's situated off shore, "beyond the surf zone," and uses sonar to create a "virtual net" that can detect a shark.
Once detected, it sends a mobile phone alert to lifeguards who can clear the swimming area.
Per News Fix, Cairns has high hopes that the alert system can even eventually become a widely used phone app.
That way, any swimmer in the area can have immediate knowledge of incoming sharks, not just the lifeguards.
And, don't worry, it doesn't beep at any old dolphin or fish or random movement. The buoy — because it's #clever — tracks the swimming pattern of the animal to suss out whether it's a shark or not before sending the alert, according to the company's site.
All of this happens in about 4.5 seconds from initial shark detection to when the lifeguards (or eventual app owners) are alerted, according to Newsweek.
This isn't even Smart Marine Systems' only shark protection product.
For surfers, they sell board decals and wetsuits designed to break up the surfer or board's outline and make it look less like shark prey.
The hope with that is fewer accidental attacks on surfers, because they won't be mistaken for food.
This company recognizes that sharks have a right to the water, and just wants everyone to co-exist peacefully. It shows a marked change from countries' previous methods of controlling shark populations that usually lead to the animal's brutal death.
Shark culls in Western Australia — though recently outlawed — encouraged people to kill any 3-meter shark caught on baited drum lines, according to IFL Science.
And underwater shark nets at beaches very often entangle and kill not just sharks, but other sea life as well.
According to the Orange Country Register, the crowdfunding goal is $25,000 for "getting regulatory approvals and the installation of a pilot program [in the U.S.]."
The Clever Buoy technology already exists and is in use in some Australian waters. Per the Register, a test buoy was installed in Western Australia's City Beach in 2016 and detected 28 sharks during its four-month trial, leading to 19 beach safety closures. The World Surf League also tested the technology in 2017.
Cairns wants the buoy system to become more widespread and find a home in U.S. waters, too.
"I'm passionate about safety in the California surf, relating to sharks," Cairns said, per PR Newswire.
He's originally from Australia but now lives in California and is concerned about the rise of shark sightings and attacks in those waters. (In all fairness, the LA Times reports that West Coast shark attacks rose only from five to nine in 2017, and nobody died.)
Newsweek reported that a test buoy is due to be placed in Corona Del Mar, California, following a non-fatal shark attack on a swimmer there in 2016.
The buoys cost about $700,000 each, but a different Register article reported that the California government has a multimillion-dollar budget bill in the works to increase shark studies in hopes of warding off increased attacks.
This buoy technology could fit nicely into that proposed budget.
Shark attacks aren't nearly as high as people always seem to believe. The International Shark Attack File recorded just 88 worldwide unprovoked shark attacks in 2017, leading to five deaths.
That's actually lower than the annual average of fatalities. But, hey, if installing non-invasive, non-threatening buoys is going to make everyone feel safer and not hurt the sharks?