Great white shark
A great white shark off the coast of AustraliaReinhard Dirscherl/Ullstein Bild/Getty

Four great white sharks, two males and two females, have been spotted off the coast of New South Wales in Australia, close to popular beaches. The sharks were identified by new tagging technologies implemented by the state government.

In 2015, a A$16 m (£8.4m, $11.8m, €10.5m) shark-management strategy was launched in New South Wales to better track the movements of the sea predator.

The aim was to reduce the number of attacks on surfers while also limiting the harm caused to sharks and other animals. In 2015, 14 attacks were reported, one of them fatal.

The strategy is based on the use of innovative technologies but also includes a prevention programme to educate people about the dangers of sharks.

Shark tagging

The sharks were identified de to a method combining animal tagging and satellite and acoustic data.

In 2015, a number of sharks were tagged and released off New South Wales' north coast after they were hooked on drum lines off the beaches. Shark-listening stations were then established to record the presence of tagged animals swimming within a 500-metre radius.

They provide near-real-time updates of tagged sharks close to key swimming locations, and so successfully warned scientists in charge of the project when the four animals were spotted.

The sharks were probably looking for food or partners. One of them was a female, measured almost three metres and had travelled more than more than 180 miles in a week. The three others measured 2.35-2.8 metres and had not travelled far from the place they had been released from.

Physical barrier

Other innovative technologies implemented by the New South Wales government include shark barriers. These ecofriendly physical barriers aim to separate sharks from water users. They do not aim to capture sharks or other marine life.

Helicopter aerial surveillance complements this comprehensive strategy against great whites, with more patrols than ever along the coastline.

The state's primary industries minister Niall Blair said the new collected data was helpful to curb the number of incidents. "We are investigating in a range of measures to reduce the risk of shark attacks in New South Wales, because there is not one solution. The more information we have about how these sharks are moving, the better we can tailor how we reduce the risk of shark attacks." he told The Daily Telegraph.