Video: Phantom 4 drones on 'shark watch' at NSW beaches
Surf lifesaving clubs on the NSW Central Coast are trialling a new drone-based aerial surveillance system in an effort to reduce shark attacks and assist with difficult rescues.
The trial, which has seen DJI's new Phantom 4 drones cruising above Central Coast beaches during the summer months, was prompted by an increase in the number of shark attacks at NSW beaches since 2015.
"In NSW there have been around 16 shark attacks in the last 18 months and we've really noticed the downturn in the number of patrons that come to the beaches," says Brett Beswick, Director of Lifesaving, Surf Lifesaving, Central Coast.
With few rescue helicopters patrolling Central Coast beaches, Beswick says the new drones have improved their response time to shark incursions.
"Generally, if we see a shark it's when it's right near the swimmers and it causes a bit of a panic and we have to get everyone out of the water.
Having the drones, it just gives us that aerial view – we can penetrate straight down into the water. With one of the patrol members working with the pilot, we can coordinate the boats and the jetskis to scare the shark back out to sea. In the past we could close the beach for half an hour and we didn't even know if the shark had gone; it could have still been there. But with the Phantom 4 we now have the ability to guarantee that that shark has left the area."
Check out the video below for more information and some stunning aerial images of sharks cruising up and down the coast.