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October 16, 2021

Drone pilots, spotters prepare for Shark Watch

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A sign-up and fundraiser for volunteers wanting to become part of Australia’s first Shark Watch crew using state-of-the-art drones for spotting held at Byron Bay’s Belongil Beach on Saturday had a buzz of excitement in the air about it.

The event, which singed up around 30 people on the day including licensed drone operators and keen young drone buffs, comes as Shark Watch prepares to start its trial shark spotting program for Byron Shire Council over the summer school holidays.

Crews from Shark Watch crew demonstrated how drone spotting works, and are now gearing up for training the more than 60 volunteers wanting to patrol Byron bay’s five surfing beaches.

Shark Watch spokesman Andrew Nieuwenhof said more volunteers are needed, of any age or experience, to train up for the program set to start at Cosy Corner later this week or next week.

Mr Nieuwenhof said the Shark Watch committee would meet tonight (Monday) to set dates for training.

‘We have to work out when people are available to roll out the program at Byron’s five beaches, seven days a week,’ Mr Nieuwenhof told Echonetdaily.

‘We have funding for one crew over the summer so we’ll go where the surfers are,’ he said.

‘Quite a few of our volunteers already know how to operate drones, we also have a couple of marine scientists on board to add to two on our committee we have as trainers.

‘Another trainer is our first-aid instructor Ruben Roxborough, a paid lifeguard who was involved in shark-attack rescues in the Ballina-Lennox Head area recently and developed a first-aid kit for first responders to shark bites which can be used by our volunteers to help out if they’re first on the scene.

‘We encourage youngsters to get involved too, a 14-year-old boy, a mad-keen drone user, and another young teenager signed up on Saturday’, he said.

To volunteer for Shark Watch, go to the Facebook page for ‘Shark Watch NSW’ where you will be able to find a membership form, or email [email protected] and they will be able to send you one.



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