Daily Dispatch

Scientists use drones to study great white sharks

- Reuters —

Scientists are using drones and other technology to study great white sharks along the coast of Southern California to better understand interactio­ns between these marine predators and people and assess the risks to human beachgoers.

The two-year study by the Shark Lab at California State University deploys drones for aerial surveillan­ce of the sharks and uses underwater robots, while the scientists also tag some sharks using a spear that fits the animals with a transmitte­r to track their movements.

“Drones have actually changed our world. They’ve become a powerful, cost effective tool,” said Shark Lab Director Chris Lowe.

Despite carnage depicted in films like Jaws and Sharknado, shark attacks on people are rare — humans kill exponentia­lly more sharks than sharks kill humans — but they can be deadly.

“Despite the fact that shark population­s are going up and more people are using the water, we’re not really seeing more people actually being bitten by sharks,” Lowe said.

From Santa Barbara to San Diego, the Shark Lab researcher­s have been flying drones along the coastline to count the number of sharks and people and look at the proximity of the creatures to the shore and swimmers. The coastal community of Del Mar, north of San Diego, is home to a great white shark nursery, the researcher­s said. Lowe said he hopes the research will help lifeguards protect the public by better understand­ing how sharks behave and whether some species are more aggressive than others.

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