Drones will be in use on Yamba beach.
Drones will be in use on Yamba beach. Clarence Valley Council

Shark patrol drone to keep swimmers safe

A SURVEILLANCE drone is set to be stationed in Yamba this summer to help spot sharks and identify rips to keep swimmers safe.

Last weekend was the first time the drone was used and while it's based at Yamba Main Beach it will also patrol Turners, Convent and Pippi beaches.

Deployed by the Department of Primary Industries and Australian Lifeguard Services, the drone will be in action on weekends until the end of April next year, as well as weekdays during the peak period.

The drone will be primarily used for shark surveillance, however it will also be used to identify issues in the water.

Qualified pilots will be easily identified in their uniform at the beach and there will be appropriate signage on site.

A Surf Life Saving NSW spokesperson said the drone was one of two deployed in region two, with the unmanned aerial vehicle program funded through the $16 million NSW Government Shark Management Strategy after a successful trial last summer on the north coast.

"Not only will it be used for shark spotting, but new alert devices fitted to the UAVs can be used to help evacuate swimmers from the water if required," the spokesperson said.

"Additionally, the technological advancements in the cameras and vision resolution will assist with shark species identification and research into the behaviour of marine life."

According to data on shark tracking website Dorsal, there were 64 shark sightings or detections from November to May this year.

The majority of sharks detected were bull sharks tagged by the DPI Fisheries at the Yamba Main Beach receiver.

The last bull shark detected by Dorsal was on November 4.

Surf Life Saving NSW is keen to recruit pilots for the program. Please email drones@surflifesaving.com.au to submit an expression of interest for training and/or register as a pilot if you are already qualified.