Could this app have prevented the most recent Ballina shark attack?
AN AUSTRALIAN developed smart phone app that warns swimmers if sharks are close could have alerted a Ballina surfer mauled by a shark earlier this week.
The founder of the app, Dorsalapp.com, Allan Bennetto, said the app had reported a bull shark sighting close to Lighthouse Beach, where Sam Morgan was mauled on Wednesday.
Victorian-based Mr Bennetto said a Ballina mother using the app had warned her son to stay away from the beach based on the report.
"We actually put out an alert at 1.07pm to all mediums (iPhone app, Facebook page, Twitter and website) about a bull shark sighting in the river around the corner from where the attack was," Mr Bennetto said.
"Not that it would have necessarily deterred or prevented this attack, but we did have a mother write to someone who reposted our report to say that her son wanted to go to that exact spot in the afternoon, but went elsewhere as a result of the alert."
On Facebook the mother, Cil Rogers, backed the network the app services.
"My 13-year-old son begged me to let him surf there this afternoon. Via this page I was informed earlier in the day there have been a bull shark sighted," she wrote.
"Needless to say I didn't allow him to surf. Example of informed decision making."
Her son, Zane, thanked his mum with a comment on the page.
"Thanks mum for warning me so glad I didn't end up going out," he wrote.
Mr Bennetto said Dorsalapp, which is free on iOS and Android platforms, collates shark sightings from members of the public as well as Twitter and Facebook feeds from surf life saving bodies and councils.
It also enables users to report their own sightings, which instantly come up on other phones.
He said the app is also customisable so users can restrict reports to their own areas, or around Australia.