A Surfer Was Just Spared His Life After a Drone Alerted Him of a Nearby Shark

The ability to capture aerial photo and video has many uses, and not all of them are commercial in nature. A recent story out of Australia shows us just how useful drones have become for purposes of public safety and surveillance.

Australian surfer Matt Wilkinson had no idea the scope of danger he was in, that is until he was alerted of it. The heroes in this story, Surf Life Saving NSW (New South Wales), are an innovative network of beach rescue operations that employ drone surveillance as part of  safety operations spanning 34 different Australian beaches.

When drone pilot Beau Monks spotted a shark swimming dangerously close to Wilkinson, he sounded a pre-recorded warning from a speaker mounted to the unmanned aerial vehicle. This prompted surfer Wilkinson’s hasty return to the shore. By then the shark had already been on Wilkinson’s tail, but did not pursue him. Luckily, the surfer was spared his life and limbs. There is some speculation that the loud sound from the warning speaker may have scared the shark away, showing that the mounted speaker might serve a double-purpose.

This was not Wilkinson’s first exposure with a dangerous shark. While taking part in a 2015 surfing competition in South Africa, a fellow participant narrowly escaped a shark attack by punching the large carnivorous fish and swimming away.

Though weight is restricted by most government agencies, drones technology is advancing, and the vehicles are more equipped to handle heavy loads. This could mean a lot for photographers — we have plenty to look forward to, especially when considering both mounted lighting systems and more sophisticated camera technology for aerial purposes.

Have you witnessed first-hand a heroic or helpful act performed by a drone? Share your story with the Fstoppers community in the comments section below.

Lead and body images by Euan Rannachan, photos not related directly to this story.


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