Chinese-made Drones to the Rescue: Protecting New York Beachgoers from Sharks

Sharks and beachgoers usually don't mix well. Off Long Island's coast, warmer waters have lured increasing numbers of bait fish, attracting sharks in pursuit. While great for marine ecology, it's nerve-wracking for swimmers, surfers, and sunbathers. But at Jones Beach, officials have found an innovative solution, Chinese-made drones.

Jones Beach, a sprawling 6.5-mile state park, hosts about six million visitors a year. Given recent shark sightings and attacks, the authorities have embraced technology. Their tool of choice? Chinese-made Drones. Starting in 2017, lifeguards, assisted by the State Park , have used drones to oversee the waters off the beach. Whenever sharks or unexpected marine activity arise, swimmers get a heads-up.

Chinese-Made Drones To The Rescue: Protecting New York Beachgoers From Sharks

Park Police Captain Rishi Basdeo reportedly shared, “the more drones that are flying in the air, there's more of a chance of seeing these animals in their natural habitat.” He believes that “just by merely warning people, that in itself is [paying] dividends.”

Basdeo oversees a fleet of 19 drones along Jones Beach. Inside a mobile command center, officers can stream live drone footage, deciding on-the-spot if swimmers should evacuate the waters.

“You're getting with the drone a real supreme aerial view of what's going on in real-time on the waterway,” Basdeo said. If sharks venture within 400 feet of the shore, they consider closing the waters.

But drones aren't just about tracking sharks. Equipped with infrared cameras, spotlights, and speakers, they play a vital role in . Imagine a distressed swimmer waiting for a lifeguard; a drone can potentially deliver a life preserver faster.

Basdeo highlights this versatility, “If we get a report that an individual is missing at night, we have an ability aside from calling in a police helicopter … we can send our drones up and put in the infrared capability in the camera and actually see in the dark.”

Maintaining this program isn't inexpensive. A basic drone kit costs roughly $6,000, excluding Federal Aviation Administration Certified Operators. Yet, as Basdeo asserts, it's a cost-effective solution. After all, “It's actually cheaper than calling in a police helicopter.”

However, privacy concerns arise with drone use. Basdeo assures that their drones aren't for prying. “We're on strict guidelines when we fly and operate these drones. It is not used to surveil the public. It is used to keep them safe,” he emphasized.

Their operations avoid flying over crowded zones, instead sticking to designated emergency lanes.

The beaches of New York are making waves in safety measures. With drones flying as the watchful eye, beachgoers can feel a little more secure, knowing that technology is helping keep the waters safe. As sharks and humans find ways to share these coastal spaces, innovation leads the way in ensuring harmony.

Photos courtesy of New York State Park Police and CNN.

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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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