Lifeguards with drones keepbeachgoers (and sharks) safe in New South Wales, Australia. The NSW government started the drone initiative in response to an unprecedented spike in shark bites in 2015.
Lifeguards with drones keep beachgoers safe in Australia
The Conversation reports that among various technology trials drones were investigated for the potential to scan the ocean for sharks and keep beachgoers safe. Lifeguards in New South Wales are now increasingly operating drones. A recent survey found that the public supports this idea as it not only protects human beings but keeps the sharks safe as well.
Alternative solutions such as shark nets and drum lines have been used on the eastern Australian coast as well. However, these solutions kill many sharks and other marine Wildlife such as rays, turtles, and dolphins.
Contrary to many other shark mitigation solutions, drones require very little infrastructure. As an added bonus the unmanned aircraft can also be used for other beach safety services such as assisting with Search and Rescue operations, dropping life vests or floatation devices to swimmers in need, and monitoring rip tides.
In collaboration with NSW Surf Life Saving, shark surveillance drones have operated on over 18 beaches along the eastern Australian coastline.
Lifeguards manually fly the drones throughout today within-line-of-sight and scan the waters for sharks. If a predator is spotted the drone pilots decide whether it is a threat to public safety and if the alarm needs to be sounded to evacuate people from the water.
During trails that lasted from October 2018 to April 2019, 350 sharks were spotted, which caused 48 beach evacuations.
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