Shark surveillance has so far been successful at Tathra and Pambula this summer and surf clubs hope to see more UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle) operating at beaches on the Far South Coast.
The UAV, commonly known as a drone has quickly become an important tool for lifeguards, scanning the water for sharks and other marine animals.
Primarily the UAVs are designed to detect sharks, with the ability to emit a warning siren to swimmers when a situation becomes threatening.
We are about to incorporate UAVs in our search and rescue missionsTony Rettke
Far South Coast Surf Life Saving president Tony Rettke said the UAVs are “here to stay”.
“The drones are great, they are so simple to fly and safe to use.
“And, the feedback from the public has been fantastic, it has all been really positive where people are feeling more comfortable knowing we have an eye in the sky,” Mr Rettke said.
Last week, Pambula Beach had closed due to a shark sighting in the proximity to the designated swimming area.
The UAV pilot was able to follow the shark’s movement and help the lifeguards make an informed decision to reopen the beach as the coast was clear.
Mr Rettke said UAVs also have further potential to assist lifeguards during search and rescue operations.
“We are about to incorporate UAVs in our search and rescue missions, to use the UAVs in the search aspect and to assist during a rescue,” he said.
In a worst case scenario, Mr Rettke said the UAVs are able to scan the coastline to assist in a body retrieval operation or to help locate stranded craft and people overboard.
On-call duty officers from Batemans Bay to Pambula have recently undergone training to also operate the UAVs.
“There are 11 duty officers who have been up-skilled to fly the drone and I have recently spoken with state surf life saving to receive additional drones at clubs in the branch.
“The plan is to try and get more for this season, if not to have them by winter ready for next season,” he said.
Mr Rettke encourages anyone who may be interested in operating a UAV to contact their local surf life saving club.
“You don’t need to swim and you don’t need first aid, you just join a club and then you can learn to fly the drone,” he said.