In an innovative move to protect beachgoers from the scourge of shark attacks, Australian authorities said Tuesday they would employ drones and “smart” drum lines on New South Wales’ (NSW) north coast this summer. Officials are set to conduct a trial of the unmanned aerial vehicles Wednesday.
According to the NSW government, the drones will send back images to operators tracking sharks using GPS coordinates, while the drum lines will alert authorities immediately when a shark is caught on a baited hook, BBC reported. The latest measures will reportedly be part of a shark management strategy that includes barriers and helicopter surveillance.
"There is no easy way to reduce risks for swimmers and surfers," NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair, said in a statement, according to BBC. "We are delivering on a commitment to test the best science available, including new technologies, as we try to find a long term-term solution to keep our beaches safe.”
The move comes amid several fatal shark attacks in Australia, making it a major concern for swimmers and surfers.
Authorities reportedly said that the first field test of shark-tracking drones will begin Wednesday at Coffs Harbour, while the drum line technology will first be installed at Ballina, where a surfer was attacked earlier this month.
The drone technology is already being used by lifeguards in California to monitor great white sharks in an attempt to keep beaches safe.
Australia has been on high alert for the past several months after a string of shark attacks off its coast. Such attacks have caused a group of surfers to demand a cull, where the government catches and kills sharks in a certain area.