New shark detection system aims to make SoCal’s beaches safer

SAN DIEGO -- Ian Cairnes, a surfer who loves the ocean and looks to protect everything in it, from sharks to swimmers, helped develop the "Clever Buoy" -- a platform that uses sonar to detect what's below the surface in real time.

"If a shark swims into any of those beams, within 4.5 seconds it is recognized by it's size," Cairnes said.

The Pacific Coast has seen a spike in shark attacks due to several factors, including an  increase in surfers, swimmers and splashers looking to get out and enjoy the ocean.

The idea behind this detection system: find a solution that doesn't lead to environmental damage or pressure on sharks, an already threatened species.

"For instance here in La Jolla, we could create a zone exactly on this beach where you knew the Clever Buoy was there, you could check your app on your phone, and know whether it's safe," said Cairnes.

Two systems already float in our oceans outside the U.S., and there's plans for one in Corona Del Mar.

The cost depends on the area it monitors. For Corona Del Mar, it will run about $700,000.

Locals say the cost seems irrelevant if it keeps our water and beaches safe.

"It's preventative. I do open-water swimming all the time here in the summer," said Matthew Dimakos. "I can't wait for it to warm up. I think that would be awesome and important. And, you know, protect your tourism and comfort them, with the preventative measures. It sounds like a good idea to me."

A mother of a 15-month-old, Kaitlin Cline said it would make her feel safer:

"I'd feel a lot safer letting her go into the water ... especially with the rise in shark attacks in the last couple of years. It would definitely be peace of mind to know there's not sharks there. And if there are, there is something to let us know."

Cairnes said humans are not sharks' intended targets.

"The sharks don't intentionally attack humans," he explained. "It's just an accident. We look like a seal or something on the surface. They come up, they attack and they bite, they let go -- and most of the time they swim off."

You can find out more about the system here.