Drone Technology Takes Shark Observation to New Heights

In the era of skyrocketing drone usage, fresh insights into marine life, especially sharks, are surfacing. Joanna Steidle, a native of Southampton, , leverages to capture breathtaking footage of ocean dwellers, including sharks, humpbacks, and rays. Her work has even captivated the esteemed National Geographic.

Fast forward to this section in the video showing the shark casually swimming through the wave a few feet away from a surfer.

These unmanned aircraft are transforming the way we perceive and study sharks. Amateur and professional photographers, scientists, and law enforcement are harnessing this technology to track sharks, delivering unparalleled imagery of these fascinating but often misunderstood creatures. As drone-captured interactions between humans and sharks become more frequent, a vigorous debate about their role in monitoring and safeguarding beachgoers ensues.

A medley of shark species, including sand tiger, dusky, sandbar sharks, and juvenile great whites, populate the waters off New York's Long Island. Climate change-induced warmer waters and laws safeguarding the sharks' primary diet of bunker fish have led to increased shark presence near the shoreline.

Drone Technology Takes Shark Observation To New Heights 1

Despite the rarity of shark bites, with only eight unprovoked instances in New York state in 2022, a recent surge of encounters is raising eyebrows. Consequently, Governor Kathy Hochul has commissioned drones to spot sharks near the shore and alert swimmers as needed.

However, drones are not without their critics. They contend that drones only record sharks when they swim close to the surface, making them a limited monitoring tool. Additionally, they warn that drone footage could fuel irrational fears about sharks.

Frank Quevedo, the executive director of Long Island's South Fork Natural History Museum (SOFO), cites an incident where a misinterpretation of a school of large fish as a throng of sharks by a drone operator led to an unnecessary beach closure.

Sharks, often seen as menacing creatures, are usually non-aggressive. Drone enthusiasts hope to use their footage to debunk these myths and reveal peaceful coexistence between humans and sharks.

Carlos Guana, a drone videographer along 's Malibu coastline, frequently showcases juvenile great white sharks swimming serenely alongside surfers. Jon Dodd of the Atlantic Shark Institute echoes this sentiment, endorsing drones as research tools that allow for unobtrusive observation of sharks in their natural environment.

Quevedo, who utilizes drones for conservation efforts like shark tagging, argues for about shark behavior over instilling fear. Nevertheless, some beachgoers, such as those at Cooper's Beach in the Hamptons, find drone surveillance reassuring.

Steidle reportedly continues her drone explorations near the Hamptons shore, where she has yet to witness a shark-human altercation. To her, drones have enriched her understanding of the Atlantic Ocean and its myriad inhabitants. She underscores the importance of respecting our cohabitation with marine life, stating, “We're not alone here. We share the space.”


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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