Off the coast of Long Island, New York, a positive transformation is occurring in the waters, characterized by warmer temperatures and improved cleanliness. This change has brought more baitfish and their predators, including sharks. While this shift is beneficial for the ecosystem, it has also raised safety concerns for beachgoers. To address these potential risks, officials at Jones Beach, a popular state park that attracts six million visitors annually, have turned to drones for safety monitoring. Drones operated by lifeguards and New York State Park Police are now keeping a vigilant watch over the waters. When sharks or unusual marine behavior are detected, swimmers are quickly alerted to stay close to the shore.

Initially launched in 2017, the drone program has gained renewed significance following recent shark-related incidents along New York’s beaches this summer. While the likelihood of shark attacks is low, recent events have prompted a more proactive stance. At Jones Beach, a fleet of 19 drones, managed by lifeguards and supported by a mobile command center, is employed. These drones are equipped with advanced cameras capable of capturing underwater images from a height of around 25 feet. Beyond spotting potential dangers, this technology can aid in search and rescue missions. Despite the program’s costs, authorities consider the drone initiative crucial for safeguarding beachgoers. It’s worth noting that drone operations strictly adhere to guidelines that prioritize public safety and privacy.