Following increased shark sightings in the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that new shark-monitoring drones are being distributed to coastal areas of Long Island, NYC, and Westchester County. The announcement was made on Friday, July 14 on what’s known as international Shark Awareness Day.
As part of the state-issued shark safety guidance Be ‘Shark Smart,’ the drones will serve as an “eye in the sky” to help keep swimmers safe. A total of 60 drones will take to the sky.
“We have a million-dollar plan where we’re equipping communities with high tech drones to monitor shark activity. And starting today, we’ll be providing over 60 of these drones to communities from Long Island to New York City to Westchester, which is our vulnerable areas,” said Hochul.
Governor Hochul posted a video of one of the drones in action to her Twitter account this past Monday, July 17. In the video a shark is seen swimming in the water surrounded by a school of fish right off the coast of Wantagh on Long Island.
This isn’t the first time shark patrolling has been a topic of discussion either.
Back in July of last year an increase in shark sightings was reported along the coast of Long Island, and Rockaway Beach even closed for swimming following multiple shark sightings.
Efforts were put in place to ensure the safety of swimmers across New York beaches, including some beaches launching “shark patrol” crews to scout the shoreline and lifeguards patrolling waters on jet skis.
Helicopters also soared above New York beaches to monitor any potential danger.
Now, new shark safety protocols established this year include the use of drones.
The shark-monitoring drones will be distributed to all downstate municipalities by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Local personnel will be trained to operate the drones.
Municipalities that don’t have drone surveillance capability will be assisted in enhancing their shark monitoring efforts in other ways.
“We’re going to be harnessing the power of technology, the human capital of our lifeguards, and making sure we’re doing everything we can to literally take the bite out of any future shark encounters here at these beautiful beaches,” said Hochul.
To minimize the risk of shark interactions when at the beach, the Department of Environmental Conservation advises swimmers to do the following:
- Avoid areas where seals are present
- Avoid areas with schools of fish, splashing fish, or diving seabirds
- Avoid swimming at dusk, night, and dawn
- Avoid murky water
- Swim, paddle, and surf in groups
- Stay close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom
- Always follow the instructions of lifeguards and Parks’ staff
Beachgoers can further stay informed on shark safety here.