The increased presence of sharks near Long Island’s shores from warming waters presents both opportunities and challenges for the ecosystem. While it signifies a healthier marine environment, it also raises safety concerns for beachgoers. Implementing drone technology for monitoring and early detection aids in ensuring swimmer safety. In addition, it showcases the practical applications of drones beyond surveillance, including potential life-saving capabilities.
Drones equipped with powerful cameras aid lifeguards and police in monitoring the coastline, allowing them to warn swimmers and ensure safety. Lifeguards and State Park Police employ a fleet of 19 drones to monitor the shoreline, using real-time footage to detect shark activity or other unusual marine behavior.
Why it matters: The technology demonstrates its multi-faceted utility by preventing potential shark-human interactions and offering search and rescue capabilities. Utilizing drones to monitor and warn lifeguards and swimmers enhances safety measures and mitigates risk at popular beach locations.
- After seeing multiple shark attacks this summer, Park Police Captain Rishi Basdeo told CNN, “I can’t predict whether or not there’s going to be more bites or shark attacks, but what I can tell you is … the more drones that are flying in the air, there’s more of a chance of seeing these animals in their natural habitat.”
- Basdeo emphasized that the drone program operates under strict safety guidelines and emphasizes its role in protecting the public. Surveilling the area is not their goal. In fact, they designated emergency lanes on sparsely populated beaches so that drones don’t fly over large groups of people.
- While drones aren’t cheap, in comparison to other safety alternatives, such as police helicopters, they are the cheaper option. Despite the cost, the benefits provide a safer beach experience. Utilizing innovative approaches like drone surveillance could become a model for other coastal regions dealing with similar challenges.