As you step out of your car, suit up, and grab your board, have you ever wondered whether there is a 3,000 pound predator lurking just out of sight? Fortunately for us, researchers at Stanford wondered, too. Thus SharkNet, a free app for iPhone and iPad, was born.
Thanks to years of research, scientists have determined where sharks usually congregate. Many local surfers are familiar with the hotspot near Año Nuevo. With knowledge of these hotspots, researchers have been able to tag dozens of Great Whites along California’s coast. In addition, several solar-powered autonomous buoys have been launched in these areas.
The most notable of these buoys is aptly named a wave-glider. Using cutting-edge wave propulsion technology, this robot converts wave motion into forward thrust, making it capable of unmanned navigation. The glider can track nearby tagged sharks and send the data back to the lab, where it can then be archived on the SharkNet app.
The app does not only tell you where not to surf, but it also contains a library of information on the many tagged sharks. It provides users with the sharks’ names, 3D models, and respective histories.
If you do choose to download the app, remember that not every Great White is tagged. The ocean is a big place and shark tracking is a massive undertaking. Additionally, there are a limited number of tracking buoys, so sharks outside of the buoys’ radius will not show up on the app. The app might not tell you where it’s safe to surf, but it will certainly tell you where it’s not.