Seal Beach has begun using a $1,400 drone to monitor juvenile great white shark activity and sightings off the coast of Surfside, following unusual shark sightings off the coast of Surfside and near neighboring beaches since this past April.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Seal Beach Marine Safety unit purchased the Phantom 3 model from drone manufacturer DJI in May and have been using it at least twice a week to monitor sharks. The drone reportedly has a range of about 1.2 miles, can record about 20 minutes of video, and is a much better tool to use in order to monitor the juvenile great white shark activity. Previously, lifeguards would taking a boat out and counting with their eyes, which is what the department did before purchasing the drone.
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Marine Biology Professor Chris Lowe at Cal State Longbeach said in an interview with the Times that he has seen the juvenile great whites swimming around the Santa Monica Bay and Ventura County during the summer before they head towards Baja as winter approaches. The sharks have not left for the past few years because the water temperatures never became cold enough due to the warmer winters California has been experiencing, Lowe said.
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The sharks tend to linger far away enough from the coastline that they do not pose a safety risk, but the drones will help monitor their movement just in case.