Mullaloo Innovation and Technology
BeachLAB is a collaboration between Mullaloo Surf Lifesaving Club and Curtin University, which commenced in 2013. Researchers are Curtin’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST) are currently studying the application of sonar technology in detecting the presence of marine animals in a monitored area at Mullaloo Beach.
BeachLAB is looking at large-scale beach coverage for detection and alert rather than individual protection units used by some swimmers. It also seeks to alert swimmers of potential marine threats audibly and visually while they are in the water, rather than digitally through apps or online services.
Research currently being conduscted by BeachLAB includes:
- The effective range of implanted tags inside the shark’s body
- The effects of sea growth on the underwater instruments. These growths include algae, seaweed and/or barnacles on the receivers and can grow very quickly during summer months.
- The long-term effective range of the detectors to ensure adequate coverage and overlap along larger distances of coastline.
This system has been a world first and was recently recognised at the WAITTA Incite awards as a National Finalist.
This system was originally developed as a proof of concept, with funding from the Club, volunteer support and donations from organisations such as, Whitfords Sea Rescue, RPS MetOcean and RADLINK.
In April 2015, a second detection buoy was deployed off Mullaloo Beach, approximately 500m North of the Club and 200m offshore. This buoy is also directly connected to the command and control system to provide additional detection capability at Mullaloo Beach. The Club detection buoys, along with the Department of Fisheries detection units, now provide us with more than one square kilometre of coverage for tagged sharks. This is a world first for any beach.
The system is now being integrated into the general alarm system of the Club. Future underwater detections will supplement the observations of lifesavers on duty. It will also provide additional detection capability for tagged sharks on a 24/7 basis when the beach does not have lifesavers on duty.
Further trials of SONAR technology will continue with CMST in the near future with the hope that one day a suitable system will be developed and funded to be implemented at Mullaloo Beach.
Using Rescue Buoys on Abalone Patrol
Mullaloo SLSC has recently trialled the use of rigid Rescue Buoys on our abalone patrols, as an alternative to the soft rescue tube. The Rescue Buoys provide rigid handles which enable distressed patients to hold onto a flotation device which is provided to them. Being a rigid design, it can be thrown a significant distance from either the IRB or land which is important to reduce the potential of injury to rescuers working around a reef in wind and swell conditions. These types of rescue buoys are not being used by other Surf Life Saving Clubs in Western Australia and the effectiveness of the trial will be detailed and provided to Surf Life Saving WA. Our thanks to Peter Rogers from ConacoPhillips Australia, who’s donation enabled us to purchase the equipment.