A Minnamurra teenager is putting the finishing touches on an app he says will inform the public “about the chance of a shark being at a beach at any given time.”
Sam Aubin, 14, has almost completed work on his app, SharkMate.
The teenager started work on the app as a school project last June, but has since branched out and sought help from others.
Sam recently entered a beta version of the app in the Future Problem Solving Program Australia competition.
Having won the “independent” category at the nationals in Melbourne, he’ll head to Wisconsin in June for the international event.
“It all comes from my interest in shark conservation,” the year 9 student at The Illawarra Grammar School said.
“I identified the reason that we’re progressing so slowly in that field is because people are scared, and people aren’t going to do as much if they’re scared.”
Therefore, the teenager attempted to figure out ways he could reduce the fear and stigma around sharks.
“What my app does is it takes all of the factors that are known to scientists to increase the chance of a shark attack. And then from there it puts that into an algorithm, which creates a number out of ten which the public can view.
“It’s basically informing the public about the chance of a shark being at a beach at any given time.
“What SharkMate does differently to all those other apps which are out there is it takes information from lots of different websites, and takes the whole scope, all the factors that increase the chance of a shark being present.”
There’s also an option to report shark sightings.
“After it circulated in the news quite a lot with the cullings in Western Australia and the shark attack in Kiama Downs (Bombo), I did a bit of research, because I was fascinated in the method that they cull, and other topics around sharks,” Sam said.
“During the research I found out that a hundred million sharks are being killed every year, and if we want to keep our oceans as healthy and sustainable as we can we have to limit the culling around sharks and limit the fishing around sharks.”
The teenager plans to release the app in about two months’ time.
During the past few months Dr Matthew Berryman, director of the Internet of Things Laboratory at the University of Wollongong has been helping the teenager refine the app, as well as mentoring him regarding software development.
Dr Berryman has also put Sam in contact with various researchers at the university to assist. “You have a 14-year-old working at a university level in terms of his abilities to research and translate that into software that actually works,” Dr Berryman said.
A Spanish tourist had a lucky escape after he was bitten on the bottom by a shark while boogie-boarding at The Farm on Sunday evening.