It feels like everyone, from racing hobbyists and Star Wars enthusiasts to trekkers to Antarctica, is getting a drone these days. It comes to no surprise that lifeguards have started adopting the technology to observe what’s going on at the beach and near the shoreline.
When the chief lifeguard at Seal Beach, Orange County used the drone to get a bird’s eye view of the surfing area off the coast, he found something that a lifeguard always fears—sharks, 6 to 12 Great Whites.
Upon closer examination, the lifeguards decided that the existing Great Whites near the shore, who were only 5 to 6 feet in length and non-aggressive in behavior, didn’t pose a threat to the surfers yet.
Shark attacks on the West Coast, like most other places, are a rare occurrence: in 2014, there were only 6 unprovoked attacks off the coast of California, and in Orange County, where Huntington Beach is frequented by tens of thousands of beach-goers every summer, there has been only one reported shark attack in the past 80 years.
Fatal shark attacks are even more infrequent, with only 10 cases in California in the past 80 years, none of them in Orange County.
Still, as a precaution the lifeguards posted “Sharks sighted” leaflets on the beach to warn the beach-goers, which has managed to deter some potential surfers from the sea.
“I was planning on going surfing tomorrow, and definitely not now,” one beach-goer said.
Drones will probably find greater application recording surfers riding the waves rather than find sharks that might threaten them. People have already made surfing videos with GoPro, which itself is looking to make a native drone platform for its video camera.