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Drones Are Patrolling Westchester Beaches for Sharks

Adobe Stock / cbpix

If you’ve been humming the Jaws theme song all summer long, you’re not alone. Drones are now patrolling Westchester beaches for sharks.

No need for a bigger boat when there are drones overhead. In light of the recent uptick in shark attacks, New York State governor Kathy Hochul has employed a fleet of drones to monitor the beaches for sharks, as well as large schools of fish, seals, and diving birds upon which sharks might prey.

The 60-strong convoy manned by trained personnel will patrol beaches in Long Island, New York City, and Westchester County 24/7, and at least one drone at each beach will be equipped with “thermal imaging, laser range finding, and high-quality cameras to allow for night-time surveillance and patrols in adverse weather conditions.” It can even “drop personal flotation devices in emergency situations.”

This high-tech solution has had a mixed reception since its announcement on Shark Awareness Day (July 14). On one hand, the drones increase chances of spotting a shark before it gets close to shore, initiating a one-hour wait period before swimmers are allowed back in the water to ensure their safety. These “eyes in the sky” also provide more data and sightings for shark researchers and might allow for an easier time tracking these creatures over time.

On the other hand, knowing exactly what we’re sharing the waters with could cause unnecessary unease or panic for beachgoers. Although the five recorded shark attacks are predicted to beat last year’s record of eight in New York, this increase in shark sightings is not entirely unexpected; sharks follow an annual migration pattern as they and their prey chase warmer waters further north and closer to shore during the summertime .

In the end, people’s safety is the most important thing. While none of the New York attacks so far have involved serious injury or hospitalization, the increased drone presence will hopefully prevent any more dangerous encounters with sharks. Additional guidelines for shark safety have also been released, advising that people avoid swimming at dawn, dusk, and night, stick close to the shore, and stay away from murky or frenzied waters.

Sharks might seem like the scariest part of the ocean for us, but it’s important to remember that they’re scared of us, too. As apex predators, sharks expect all their prey to swim away from them immediately—moving toward it or kicking out at the shark might save a life, as crazy as it sounds.

Related: 4 Photo-and-Video Drones All Westchester Tech Lovers Need to Try


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