We’ve written before about the many surveillance companies that are hoping to use drones to track shark movements and spot sharks from the air before a rescue mission is necessary. But last week, a massive grey nurse shark was found not by a spotting company, but by a freelance photography drone owned and operated by a mister Reed Plummer.
“With the water getting warmer leading into summer,” Plummer told the Daily Mail, “They [sharks] often come in close to shore to feast on schools of fish…I guess you could say it is a safe haven for them. Surfers and stand-up paddle boarders often don’t even realize how close they are to the nurses.”
The grey nurse, also known as a sand tiger shark, is a generally timid creature sometimes referred to as the labrador of the sea. They live on sandy shorelines closer to beaches than the deep ocean, but they have never killed a human on record and prefer to eat fish, squid, crustaceans, and in certain circumstances other grey nurses.
However, this particular shark was spotted only a few kilometers away from North Avoca beach, where a 25-year-old British doctor named Charlie Fry was non-fatally bitten in the right shoulder by a large shark of unknown species and origin. “I just punched it with my left hand and shouted out to my mates and paddled so hard back to shore,” Fry told the Daily Telegraph. “I’m not sure what kind of shark it was.”
Credit: Reed Plummer/Central Coast Drones via Storyful
There was a potentially dangerous situation at Copacabana beach as well – the nurse spotted by the drone was circling some fish not far from a pair of men riding stand-up paddle boards, as you can see in the video. The photographer contacted the two men on social media to alert them of the potential danger, but in Plummer’s own words “they were aware the shark was there, they actually paddled towards it – but kept a safe distance.”
In the end, the only casualty of this particular shark visit was that a large school of shore fish were frightened, scattering from their circular formation as you can see in the video shared by Plummer.
There’s no telling whether the recent attack on Dr. Fry was carried out by this particular shark, another grey nurse, or a different shark altogether (although experts suggest it’s most likely the latter.) But from a perspective of drone usage, this is just another example of how useful drones can be for patrolling shorelines and keeping our beaches safe.
What do you think, readers? Have you, like 58,000 of Plummer’s Facebook followers, seen the popular shark spotting drone video? Should the photographer have done more to warn people away from the shark? Does this technology have the wider reach that many are hoping for, or was this just a fluke? Be sure to let us know what you think of this story in the comments.