An innovative new shark-spotting strategy is poised to watch over the south-eastern beaches of NSW this summer – a five-metre blimp.
The brainchild of Kiama lifeguard and marine scientist Kye Adams, 22, the blimp is the centrepiece of Project AIRSHIP (Aerial Inflatable Remote Shark Human Interaction Prevention), and will provide coverage of shark activity via a mounted hi-definition video camera that will send live images to the Kiama Surf Club.
Costing $5000, with helium costs of around $500-$1000 a month, the blimp has already been tested over the schools September break, and will be on a 6 week trial to coincide with the school summer-break holidays from December to February.
Mr Adams says the cost-effective strategy is a no-brainer –
“Blimps can stay up all day, and our camera can provide eight hours of continuous coverage of the beach,”
The airship is 1.2 metres in diameter and will fly up to 120 metres above the ocean, well below airspace regulations, and will hopefully give lifesavers an extra edge in their efforts to help keep water-users safe.
So far in 2016 there have been 16 shark attacks in the waters around Australia, 2 of which have been fatal, and 6 of those attacks have occurred off the coast of NSW.