Unprovoked shark attacks are incredibly rare, but for many years Florida has topped the global charts. That trend continued last year, with 16 shark attack cases in the Sunshine State representing 50% of the U.S. total and 24% worldwide.
Still, statistically, you’ve got to be seriously, seriously unlucky to become a target for a hungry/curious shark. The odds currently sit at around 1 in 3,748,067. You’re more likely to be killed by lighting, among many other things.
But it’s safe to say that those statistics shift if you’re swimming in Florida and a shark is nearby.
Using a drone to spot sharks from above
That was the situation photographer Dan Watson found himself in. He was flying his Mavic 2 Pro above his family on New Smyrna Beach when he spotted the unmistakable silhouette of a shark.
In his own words, “See that dark shadow making its way straight for the shore & those people? That was my view this weekend while flying my Mavic 2 Pro… and oh, 3 of those people are my kids! Swipe to see the next image that resulted from my yelling to get out of the water and the unmistakable outline of a shark. Definitely too close of an encounter for my liking! Thinking my DJI drone is now coming with me to every beach day!!!”
Needless to say, Watson’s first move was to yell at the kids to get out of the water, as you can see in the second image in the Instagram link above. It was a pretty close call. Who knows how things might have unfolded had he not been flying his DJI drone at that moment.
Drones and shark detection
Of course, this isn’t the first time a drone has been used to protect swimmers from the threat of sharks. There are established programs in Australia, where the technology is used to detect sharks and support lifeguards more generally.
When used in conjunction with AI and image recognition, the hope is that drones could patrol popular areas and form an early warning system for beachgoers.