Tathra and Pambula Surf Life Saving Clubs look forward to trialling the use of shark surveillance drones this summer.
Fitted with alerting devices and the ability to drop an inflatable rescue pod to distressed swimmers, the drones will provide beachgoers with an extra piece of mind when entering the water at Tathra and Pambula main beaches.
Pambula SLSC secretary Don Hay said the aerial surveillance will be an excellent asset for the future of surf lifesaving.
“Because it can be difficult for lifeguards to see submerged objects from the beach, aerial surveillance will allow a better vantage point to investigate.
“We will be able to locate the target and and follow it out of the area,” he said.
“Another beauty of this is that it helps invite new members into surf life saving clubs who have an interest in the role of operating a drone.
“You don’t have to be a lifesaver at all, you can join the club as a non-active member but still work closely with the lifeguards on the beach,” Mr Hay said.
The drones will provide an extra set of eyes for greater coverage of dangers along the coast and a faster response to incidents at key blackspot locations.
The program will be funded through the $16 million NSW Government Shark Management Strategy.
Surf club members are to complete training later this month in time to operate the drones during patrol hours this summer.
“The drone will run once in the morning at the start of patrol and then again mid patrol,” Mr Hay said.
“The main reason is for shark surveillance and to help to provide other information as it comes to hand.”
Mr Hay said the drones have an average lifespan of 100 hours and both Tathra and Pambula surf clubs are expecting to receive two drones per year.
“Once we receive the drones and we have operators all trained up we can start surveillance straight away as required,” he said.
“To my understanding the DPI choppers will still do their runs, after the trials eventually all beaches with a surf club will have drones.”