While sharks continue to dominate the news in WA following the State Government's new catch-and-kill policy, Dr Kempster believes that improved understanding can lead to better protection for sharks and allow us to continue to enjoy the ocean safely.
"We still know comparatively little about many shark species and their behaviour," he said. "Current research is shedding light on the factors that influence sharks' diving behaviour and movement patterns."
Dr Kempster's research focuses on the shark's sixth sense to "see" the electric fields created by other living things in the ocean environment. Using tiny pores over the surface of their heads, sharks can detect weak electric fields down to about a billionth of a volt.
"Shark repellents have traditionally been used to reduce the risk of attack, but they also play a role in reducing bycatch and protecting both sharks and the people who work and play in our oceans," he said. "This approach could help us develop strategies to coexist with these important apex predators and continue to enjoy the ocean safely."
Dr Kempster will use the lecture to outline the history of shark repellent technology and share his latest research findings.
A marine neuroecologist (sensory biologist) and founder of the shark conservation group Support Our Sharks (supportoursharks.com), Dr Kempster began his research with a Master of Science in Marine Biology at Bangor University in the UK and later moved to Australia to complete a PhD at UWA.
WHAT: UWA Extension Lecture by Ryan Kempster: "Repelling sharks to save them... and us"
WHEN: Thursday 20 February 2014, 7.00pm - 8.00pm
WHERE: Kurrajong Lecture Theatre, UWA Claremont, cnr Princess and Goldsworthy Rds
BOOKINGS: Tickets $19 from UWA Extension: 6488 2433 or online: www.extension.uwa.edu.au