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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Drones for shark surveillance

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The recent tragic shark attack has prompted another round of debate about the best means of providing swimmer and surfer protection.

While the overwhelming majority of regular local surfers and swimmers would be avidly opposed to any anti-environmental measures such as shark culling or netting, the usual proponents of these interventions have surfaced once again.

What constructive shark surveillance measures are available then?

I would advocate the use of small drones that could regularly patrol the skies above crowded patrolled beaches such as at Byron, Lennox and Ballina.

The drones can be equipped with surveillance video cameras that can interface with lifeguards or volunteers who could promptly activate a shark alarm or drive the shark out to sea.

This preventative measure would be cheap and environmentally responsible. There are many people who would be willing and able to assist I’m sure.

I don’t know whether there are any precedents elsewhere for the use of drone technology for such a constructive purpose. The debit side would possibly be some noise and intrusiveness.

Let’s start the debate and move forward to minimise the chance of another ocean enthusiast dying.

Richard Lucas, Lennox Head





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  1. Great to read interest is rising about monitoring sharks!

    Yes drones can help ( 3 links below about work in australia ) and so can tagging and tracking
    ( see link below)

    Greg Skomal, a state marine biologist and shark specialist. He has led efforts to tag and track the behemoths…The sightings increased. Taggings increased. Tourists started asking where they could see the great whites and, eventually, businesses started catering to the interest.“In Chatham now, you yell ‘Shark!’ in the middle of town, people come running to the beach, not away from it.”

    Three links to use of drones in Australia
    1. A three-month trial on Queensland’s North Stradbroke Island is expected to start in September, with lifesavers hopeful the drones will be rolled out nationally.

    2. A company that builds and operates drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, has made a proposal to the Department of Fisheries to operate aerial shark patrols.
    Managing director of Perth based company Cyber Technology Chris Mounkley said UAVs could cover more area than helicopters, would be safer and could be done cheaper.
    Read more: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/sharkseeking-drones-see-better-than-the-human-eye-20120914-25x4n.html#ixzz3DdoVyHhE

    3. The New South Wales Government is considering the use of drones to scan the water to prevent shark attacks.A spokeswoman for the Department of Primary Industries has confirmed it is exploring the use of the military-style devices, but that the project is commercially sensitive.


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