Man accused of stealing great white's tag to set off fake shark alerts

·2-min read

A man in Western Australia's south has been accused of catching a great white shark, removing its tracking tag then using it to set off fake shark alerts to tens of thousands of people. 

WA Police confirmed with Yahoo News Australia that they charged a 48-year-old man in relation to the alleged stealing of an “acoustic monitor tag”.

The tag is a part of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) tagging and monitoring program.

The man has been accused of setting off fake shark alarms. Source: Shark Smart/ Getty
The man has been accused of setting off fake shark alarms. Source: Shark Smart/ Getty

According to a report by the Albany Advertiser, the man accidentally caught the great white shark and removed the tag, before releasing the shark back into the ocean.

Set off the alarm multiple times

The Shark Monitoring Network (SMN) in WA consists of 34 acoustic receivers.

These receivers provide real-time shark alerts which are then used by SharkSmart and Surf Life Saving WA to warn people.

There are 34 acoustic receivers at key locations around WA. Source: Shark Smart
There are 34 acoustic receivers at key locations around WA. Source: Shark Smart

The Shark Smart Networks says sharks are fitted with acoustic tags that emit a sequence of low frequency ‘clicks’ which give each tag an audible identification number. These unique signals can be detected and recorded when the shark swims within range of an acoustic receiver.

There are two receivers in the Albany area — Ellen Cove and Frenchman Bay. Shark sightings are common in the Albany area.

Albany police officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Hugh Letessier told the West Australian the behaviour of the man — who reportedly set off the alarm seven times — was “irresponsible”.

“It leaves an untagged white shark that we know is in waters off Albany,” Sgt Letessier said.

“Also the false alarm causes unnecessary fear to residents and people using the water.”

The man is due to appear before the Albany Magistrates Court on November 4.

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