WA gets internet shark tracker

The Sharksmart website shows where sharks are seen off WA.

In a world-first, the public is getting the chance to help monitor the movements of sharks off WA in an effort to reduce the number of attacks.

The Department of Fisheries has updated its Sharksmart website, which will digitally map all reported shark sightings from the public, surf lifesavers and other agencies.

"We want to give beachgoers the latest information so they can make informed decisions about their water use," Lisa Clack, manager of the department's shark response unit, said.

Previously, only the movements of tagged sharks were plotted on the website.

The new digital platform means within 90 seconds of a shark sighting being reported to water police, the exact time, location, species (if known) and size will be uploaded to the website.

Simultaneously, a tweet from Surf Life Saving WA with the same information will be generated and a text message sent to relevant authorities to decide whether the beach should be closed.

Chris Peck, from SLSWA, said the system meant warnings could be give seven to 10 minutes quicker than in the past.

"People can't say that I didn't have the information sooner," he said. "It's now their responsibility to make sure they check in regularly."

Ms Clack said the website would also map shark sightings in the river and whale carcasses.

The mobile and tablet-compatible website automatically updates.

Premier Colin Barnett said the website, which took 18 months to develop at a cost of $370,000, was "another tool which allows people, in a sense, to be empowered and make their own decisions about going to the beach".

Sightings from the community are unverified and though Fisheries admitted there was a risk the system could be abused, it hoped the technology would be embraced.

The updated shark activity map will be launched at noon today.

Visit sharksmart.com.au/shark-activity.

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