Scientists' site seek snaps of sharks
Scientists have finally created an outlet for everyone's pictures of the resident hammerhead shark in Dampier.
Shark researchers from the University of WA have developed a new citizen scientist initiative for the public to submit their shark sightings and help collate data about the sea creatures from all over the world.
Lead researcher Dr Ryan Kempster said many hours had been spent to find and study sharks, but the money and time for such research was limited.
Dr Kempster said they had been looking for a mechanism to encourage more volunteers in their research and had a great deal of interest from community outreach and school groups.
"Whenever I'm on social media, you see countless photos of people out diving, snorkelling, surfing and they see a shark," he said.
"There's so much information out there potentially useable by scientists but not necessarily useable off social media on its own."
After talking with colleagues who ran interactive platforms with the public, SharkBase was created.
SharkBase is website where the public can submit their photos, with location and time details of the sightings. Researchers then identify the shark.
Much of Dr Kempster's work has been into shark repellents and he said this was a side-project where they could prioritise areas for more in-depth study, depending on the population and distribution data received on different sharks.
"The application of it is global to allow anyone to get involved," he said.
"We're hoping to collaborate with researchers around the world and see people use SharkBase for their own areas of study.
"Effective management of sharks starts with an understanding of their population status, which will ultimately instruct their future conservation."
Dr Kemptser's fellow researcher Channing Egeberg said using the data gathered by SharkBase, they could not only map the distribution of sharks globally but infer patterns of marine ecosystem health.
The public is encouraged to record their sightings at http://www.shark-base.org.