Australian report suggests using drones to spot sharks

CHATHAM, MASS. (WHDH) - A newly-published Australian report is looking at the potential of using drones to track sharks, but Cape shark-watchers say it’ll take more than just one piece of technology to monitor the animals.

The new study examines using drones to track sharks in shallow water, up to six and a half feet below the surface. Researchers say drones would be more cost-effective than planes or helicopters.

Six Cape Cod communities looked at drone monitoring as part of a comprehensive shark study released this fall, and while there’s potential, there are also downfalls, an official says.

“That may be the wave of the future, but the technology didn’t seem to be quite where we needed it to be at this point,” said Dan Tobin, parks and recreation manager for Chatham.

Tobin said the amount of time a drone can stay in the air is an issue, and a human looking at a small screen may miss a big fish. Australian researchers said updating drone equipment to bigger screens and adding automatic detection software may help improve their accuracy.

Tobin said a multi-layered approach is needed.

“I think as technology continues to advance, there are a lot of different angles, from underwater sonar protections to aerial survelliance with cameras,” Tobin said, adding he was glad to see new research. “Everyone sharing information has been helpful, [we’re] just trying to look for the best way we can to protect swimmers when they’re at the beach in the summer.”


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