Drones vs Jaws: Aerial shark hunters deployed in New York

Aerial view of a Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas), shot with a drone, reefs of the Sea of Cortez, Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
A drone view of a bull shark. This image was taken in Baja California - but this species has been seen in New York, where Long Island are increasing its drone surveillance of beaches for shark activity. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Officials in New York’s Long Island State Park have announced they’re adding a fleet of 10 drones to watch the beaches for sharks.

The fleet will be made up of a variety of drones, including the Autel EVO II v3 series, and will be deployed while the sharks, including the legendary great white, arrive in the Island's waters over the summer.

New York is more than just a metropolis, it’s the name of the US state too, and one of its famous features is the Atlantic Coast, miles and miles of rugged beaches stretching down from Montuk in the north to (think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) to Rockaway Beach just south of Brooklyn. While we're on the film references, you don't have to go far northeast of the tip of Long Island before you get to Martha's Vineyard, where Jaws was filmed.

Much of Long Island is overseen by the State Park, which already operates eight drones, but is more than doubling that fleet in this move. They're also responsible for less-than-subtle shark warning signs along the beaches.

This isn't just hyperbole and an excuse to buy drones though – swimmers reported many shark attacks last summer. One even went viral.

The State Park will also be undertaking a training program to add another 12 certified pilots to the 21 it has already, some of whom are also lifeguards.

According to Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid "The action being taken along the South Shore of Long Island will give us eyes in the sky and along the coastline. Over the past two seasons, we've learned that drones are the most effective mechanism to detect environmental conditions that could attribute to shark activity."

If you're interested in conducting you're own water surveys – either for shark safety or just to keep an eye on the kids – some drone features you'll need to think about are battery life and resistance to the seaside breeze. You should look at our list of best camera drones, and we'd emphasize that a bit of extra weight will make a drone less susceptible to gusting so the DJI Air 2S – which is being widely discounted now – might be an interesting choice.

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Adam Juniper
Managing Editor

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 

Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 

He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook