Lifeguard Builds Blimp to Scan Australian Beach for Sharks

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Australian lifeguard Kye Adams is using an old-school piece of aviation technology to spy on sharks from above. As reported by the Illawarra Mercury, project AIRSHIP (Aerial Inflatable Remote Shark Human Interaction Prevention) consists of a camera-equipped blimp used to spot sharks lurking offshore before they can do harm to swimmers.

The 16.4-foot craft took flight for the first time on Friday, October 7 above the waters of Surf Beach in Kiama, Australia. Using onboard survey cameras, the blimp relays real-time coverage of the ocean surface to a lifeguard-monitored laptop on land. If any shark-shaped shadows are seen swimming in the water, lifeguards can evacuate the beach before any unwanted shark-human interactions occur.

Kiama beachgoers are familiar with the threat posed by sharks: In March, a surfer sustained serious injuries when he was attacked roughly 300 feet offshore. On the other side of the continent, beaches in Western Australia are about to launch a three-month trial of a shark-spotting drone that will work similarly to Kye’s AIRSHIP. The major difference is cost: while $88,000 is being invested in the drone’s trial run, the blimp only costs $5000 plus $500 to $1000 a month for helium.

The shark-scanning blimp's official test run is set to take place from late December though February, coinciding with Australia’s summer vacation season.

[h/t Illawarra Mercury]

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