Sydney beaches get rubber sharks to test patrol efficiency

Melbourne, Dec 22 (ANI): A number of rubber sharks are being anchored off Sydney's beaches in a bid to see how easily they can be spotted from the air during patrols.

The rubber sharks are part of a world-first experiment to test the eyes of NSW's aerial shark spotting teams, and to also decide whether helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft are the best platforms to guard the beaches.

A debate has started over what would prove more effective, a helicopter or plane, after Sydney's summer of the shark in 2008-09, when there were two attacks on beaches.

Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan said the experiment would add hard science to the argument.

An undisclosed number of the rubber sharks will be anchored to the bottom at various depths off several beaches, which are part of the Government's summer aerial shark patrols.

"The helicopter will follow the faster aeroplane, each flying the same route to ensure they search the same patch of water," quoted Whan as saying.

But Whan said he did not expect the rubber shark experiment to cause alarm among beachgoers, and that local surf lifesavers will be notified.

"The replica sharks will also be in the shape of the relatively harmless hammerhead species to further avoid concern," he explained.

"For scientific integrity it is important that the spotters do not know when or where the replica sharks are present," he stated. (ANI)

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