I checked in with a friend I hadn’t been in touch with for a bit as he always has something interesting to tell me.

Ric Richardson is an old family friend and one time neighbour in Byron Bay.

Ric is an inventor extraordinaire. (He is the Australian inventor who took on Microsoft and eventually won after a painful and protracted battle for using his technology he invented without permission or acknowledgement.)  

‘So what’s new Ric?’


‘What’s that?’

‘It stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances.’

‘For what?’

‘To detect sharks fast before they make trouble.’

‘Do tell.’

‘I was sitting with newly minted Byron Bay mayor Simon Richardson having some lunch and asking him if he could wave a wand, what technical problem would he like to see solved? A gentleman had just died in a​ shark attack a few days before​ and he said “Solve the shark problem” and I thought “How hard can it be?” Famous last words.

It’s been 9 years since that day and I’m still only just getting my head around the issue. Looks like some folks at the CSIRO and I have broken the back of the problem but it’s now our third attempt.

Firstly I tried sonar detection. Using sonar detectors that sit just below the surface and scan for sharks near popular areas. The NSW Department of Primary Industries shared internal data that showed that sharks travel up the beach in gutters next to the sand which is all foamy broken water… impossible to use sonar for that… next I tried shadow detection looking for mature sharks facing up from the surf’s sandy bottom… nah. The sensors got covered in sand almost immediately. Then came our latest breakthrough – Lidar. 

I am still in the process of patenting the concept but the CSIRO has confirmed it works in principle. Stand by for news on this front the moment we get the concept patented and validated. As a Byron local, the day we can detect sharks and give good accurate detection warnings will be a good day.”

Ask and you shall receive….. this is hopefully splendid news. Ric points out shark nets are massively expensive, useless, and harmful to other species.  I gather Ric’s super spotter will stand on a tall pole adjacent to a beach run by solar and battery.

Fingers crossed. 


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