Drones are ‘absolutely fantastic’ says Stephen Kajiura, a shark specialist and professor from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Access to aerial footage from accessible and affordable drones help scientists better understand how these marine predators behave in real life.
Drones are absolutely fantastic says shark specialist and professor
Drones that are both accessible and affordable “give you this top-down view that has been a boon to research,” says Stephen Kajiura, a shark specialist and professor from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
USA Today reports that the United States averaged around 44 unprovoked shark bites a year over the past 20 years, according to records kept by the International Shark Attack File at the Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. Last year, there were 40 reported attacks in the USA.
The only coastal states that have not reported shark bites over the last 20 years are Alaska Connecticut Maryland and New Hampshire.
Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach said that considering how many people enter the water, shark encounters remain exceedingly rare. The Shark Lab uses drones for a two-year research project to study the behavior of great white sharks close to shore and near people.
“You’ve got waders, boogie boarders, surfboarders, paddle boarders and swimmers, and they’re all using different parts of the shore,” said Lowe.
Lowe added that so far the drone footage shows that sharks mostly ignore people.
“Every once in a while they change their path, they get a little startled and take off. They also do that with each other.”
The drones provide more scientific data of what actually happens in the water, compared to the anecdotal evidence that swimmers and surfers shared with researchers before.
For more than 20 years, Giuseppe “Joey” Liuzzo, who has surfed New Smyrna in Florida and he says he sees sharks almost every time he goes into the water. But he was blown away when about a few months ago he first put his drone up over the inlet.
“You see sharks everywhere,” he said. “You see them next to surfers, under surfers, around surfers. Last week I put my drone up and I caught 10 sharks in one frame.”
Last year there were 64 documented unprovoked shark attacks, only two of them were fatal. In 2020 there have been two unprovoked shark attacks in the U.S. and three in Australia, which is slightly up from the annual average of four attacks each year.
Let us know in the comments below if you agree with Stephen Kajiura that drones are ‘absolutely fantastic.’
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Photo credit: Guiseppe ‘Joey’ Liuzzo