A Shark-Spotting Drone Could See Jaws Before It Sees You
“The future of rescue” is being tested sky high over Australia’s coastline
a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a … shark-spotting drone? It exists, and it does more than spot sharks. The drone,
recently launched (so to speak) as part of a pilot program in New South Wales, is being hailed as “the future of rescue” in
The helicopter-shaped drone carries a “pod” that contains rescue gear including a locator beacon, inflatable three-person life raft and even shark repellent. The pod can be dropped down to a swimmer in distress.
The drone, made in the United States, helps protect swimmers and surfers from underwater threats, including fish with big teeth. Its high-tech camera can be used in conjunction with a software algorithm to detect sharks lurking in popular swimming spots.
This mini-copter, nicknamed “The Little Ripper,” is more stable in cross winds than regular drones and is a cheaper, more agile alternative to helicopter rescue, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. When fully charged, it can fly for up to one hour.
The drone was dreamt up by Kevin Weldon, the founding president of the International Life Saving Federation, and former Australian astronaut Paul Scully-Power. Westpac, an Australian bank, is funding the trial. Weldon told the Sydney Morning Herald if the trial is successful, there would be a Little Ripper attached to each Westpac rescue helicopter (there are 17) around Australia.
Avoiding a shark attack
Even if shark-spotting drones were to one day keep watch over America’s beaches, it still pays to use shark smarts when dipping into the ocean. Here are five ways to avoid a shark bite:
1. Swim during the day. Sharks are most active at dusk and dawn, so swim during daylight hours.
2. Take off jewelry. The light reflecting off metal can look like the scales of a fish and attract a shark, according to National Geographic. Leave your bling on the shore.
3. Avoid fishing spots. Stay away from places like fishing piers, as there may be bait in the water.
4. Swim with a buddy. Predators usually go after solitary prey.
5. Avoid spots sharks love. The Florida Museum of Natural History says inlets, channels and troughs between sand bars that form the surf zone in a beach area are among sharks’ favorite hangout spots.
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