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Unmanned Bots May Reduce Shark Attacks

Great Whie Shark
Getty Images, photo by Dan Kitwood

Fall is coming in Maine and heading to the beach is pretty much over. Around the world though they’re still heading to the beach and a lot of people worry about being attacked by sharks. Almost all shark experts agree the danger of shark attacks have been exaggerated, but thanks to the ‘Jaws’ movie that came out in 1975, it has had people freighted ever since. A shark attack is described as an attack by a shark on a human and every year about 100 attacks are reported around the world with 15% leading to death.

South Africa ranks as number one for shark attacks and Australia ranks number two. Australia, however, is ranked the highest in the world in terms of shark fatalities. While the worldwide average for fatalities is 15%, in Australia it’s 30%.  In the United States 16 shark attacks are reported each year with one fatality ever two years. Australia is trying to do something about safety in the water by deploying lifeguard drones on its beaches. The drone will keep a robotic eye out for swimmers in distress as well as dangerous marine life, meaning sharks. The drones are deployed by Surf Life Saving Australia across beaches in Queensland on a trial basis. The bots are unmanned and have a wingspan of about 3 feet and will feature detachable safety buoys and alert sirens.

The drones could be the next big thing in seaside safety but some people are worried that big brother may be watching a little too much. According to Brett Williamson, head of Surf Life Saving, that is about as far from the truth as you can get. At the end of the day, Williamson said, this all about public safety. We may see this coming to the U.S too, especially in places like Florida, Hawaii, South Carolina and California. Those states are among the highest for shark attacks with Florida leading the world in 2010. Caution is always best when swimming in the ocean but shark attacks in the U.S. are normally low. Of all people going to the beach the chances of a shark attack are 1 in 11.5 million and a 1 in 264 million chance of a fatality.

A lifeguard in the sky, it’s not ‘Baywatch,’ but could save lives.

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