Drones Are Being Deployed to Stop Shark Attacks in Australia

December 18, 2017 - 3 minutes read

In a previous segment of Dogtown Media News, we discussed how drone development has been indispensable in a variety of situations; natural disasters, protecting wildlife, and preserving the environment are just a few. Now Australian authorities have added another one to the list — preventing shark attacks.

A Better Perspective

Drones are being deployed at numerous beaches in Australia to spot sharks. Outfitted with red and yellow stripes to match the Australian lifeguard uniform, these drones are utilizing their advantageous aerial positioning to not only scan the waters, but also provide rescue equipment for any swimmers in trouble.

The drones also have another advantage at their disposal — artificial intelligence (AI). Analyzing thousands of images with AI algorithms has allowed the drones to identify an array of nautical creatures and common objects like sharks, whales, dolphins, and even different types of boats. The drones do this successfully 90 percent of the time, a steep increase from the 16 percent that the human eye scores on average. 

Already Paying Off

Although the drones have only been deployed for a few weeks, they’ve already proven their value. On two separate occasions, drones have helped evacuate beachgoers when a shark was in the vicinity. Both occurrences happened at Secret Harbor, a beach in southern Perth.

During the first occurrence, a drone detected an eight-foot-long shark swimming in a zig-zag pattern approximately 100 meters offshore. By spotting the shark early, the drone allowed 20 surfers and about 60 school children to escape the waters to safety.

The second incident occurred on December 6. This time, a drone spotted a ten-foot-long shark early, allowing swimmers and surfers to get out of the water before anything bad happened. After evacuating civilians, lifeguards then monitored the sea creature to ensure it was far enough from the beach before allowing people back in the water.

A Perfect Solution

Drones have solved a challenging conundrum for the Australian government; they’ve been searching for a method to improve beach safety without disturbing marine life. Australian states using shark nets now plan on replacing them with drone and sonar surveillance.

Due to the increasing popularity of water sports and certain types of fish moving closer to beaches, shark attacks have increased in the last year in Australia. But shark attacks shouldn’t deter Australians from enjoying a day on the shore; only 47 deadly attacks have occurred in the last 50 years. Still, it’s great to learn about another way that drones are being used to provide safety and peace of mind.

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