THERE is hope new research and cutting edge drone technology, could help make our beaches a lot safer this summer.

A new study by Southern Cross University PHD students brings together the latest shark surveillance research and technology to understand more about shark behaviour.

The technology is now almost at a point where marine animals can be reliably detected and identified in real-time from drones using sophisticated 'eye in the sky' artificial intelligence software.

According to Dr Andrew Colefax advances in autonomous drone surveillance means drones can patrol for longer periods over longer stretches of coastline without requiring a 'line-of-sight' operator.

"The majority of shark encounters tend to involve boardriders rather than swimmers, so it's important that we develop technology with the intention to provide surveillance beyond the red and yellow flags and hours of beach patrols," Dr Colefax said.

Tributes flow for shark attack victim Mani Hart-Deville, 15, who was attacked while surfing at Wooli Beach. Picture: Instagram
Tributes flow for shark attack victim Mani Hart-Deville, 15, who was attacked while surfing at Wooli Beach. Picture: Instagram

"Drone technology is already at a point where they can charge themselves, take off and fly a set course, and land without an on the ground pilot.

"In the short-term, the goal is for machine-learning software to assist drone pilots to obtain reliable detection and identification of shark species to improve situational decision making on beach management."

All the data that is collected through the use of drones is also valuable in understanding shark behaviour, and there is hope the research could go some way to preventing attacks like the one which tragically cut short the life of Minnie Water teenager Mani Hart-Deville in July.

15-year-old Mani Deville died in July after being bitten by a shark.
15-year-old Mani Deville died in July after being bitten by a shark.

The young surfer was off Wilson's Headland at Wooli when he was bitten by a great white shark and died on the beach surrounded by fellow surfers who were trying to save his life.

RELATED: Police reveal fight for Mani's life after shark attack

It was a crushing blow to the small seaside community, which only has a population of around 230 people, many of which took to social media to pay tribute to Mani.

Surf Life Saving NSW Duty Officer and Woolgoolga SLSC president Les Pepper went to Wooli to help with the search for the shark responsible, also using a drone.



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