News

Technology keeps eye on sharks

SHARK SPOTTER: Pictured at last week's launch of a new algorithm for the Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver drone which makes it more efficient in spotting sharks are (from left) operations manager Ben Trollope, mayor of Ballina Shire Cr David Wright and the University of Technology's Dr Nabin Sharma.
SHARK SPOTTER: Pictured at last week's launch of a new algorithm for the Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver drone which makes it more efficient in spotting sharks are (from left) operations manager Ben Trollope, mayor of Ballina Shire Cr David Wright and the University of Technology's Dr Nabin Sharma. Graham Broadhead

WHILE Ballina Shire's mayor, Cr David Wright, wants the six-month shark mesh net trial to run its course, he is open to ideas on other ways to mitigate against shark attacks.

Cr Wright was at Lighthouse Beach when Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver drone company announced it has a new computer algorithm which has significantly improved the ability for drone operators to spot sharks in the water.

He later attended a meeting with the NSW Department of Primary Industries staff about an electronic shark deterrent device that potentially could cover an entire beach, which is currently in development.

Cr Wright said the mesh nets "made a difference" in the confidence of beach-goers, but he welcomed any technology that would be less invasive, as long as it had the same outcome.

"I'm hopeful by next summer there's a different technology without any by-catch," he said.

The Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver company partnered with the University of Technology (UTS) in Sydney to create the new algorithm.

Dr Nabin Sharma from UTS said 8000 images and footage taken from drones flying along the NSW coast in the past 12 months had been used to develop the algorithm. The company held a two-week trial in Ballina last year.

The algorithm is loaded onto the computer software to allow it to identify sharks, dolphins, boats, swimmers and surfers from the live feed being transmitted to the computer from drones.

He said it is 90% accurate, which is much more than the 18% accuracy of human spotters in helicopters and the 12% accuracy of spotters in fixed-wing aircraft.

Ben Trollope, operations manager of Westpac Little Ripper, said the company has various sized drones in its fleet of 35, which have a range of between 15 minutes and four hours.

He said it would take the larger drone about 10 minutes to do a complete sweep of Lighthouse Beach, scanning about 100m of surf every 0.6 seconds while flying at an altitude of 80m.

He said to patrol the surf from Ballina to Lennox Head would mean operating a drone from various locations along the route as they can't be flown out of sight.

He said a cost of $40,000 would buy a drone, pay for training for four people and cover ongoing maintenance.

Ballina Shire Council currently pays $250,000 each year for lifeguards.

Cr Wright said it was his preference that the State Government pay for any shark mitigation measures.

Topics:  little ripper northern rivers environment northern rivers technology shark sharks westpac life saver rescue helicopter


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Man allegedly assaulted man, threatened police

NSW police capsicum sray.. 07 October 2016

He was subdued with a burst of capsicum spray

Flood crash survivor, Chloe, 8, tells of escape

Chloe-May Kabealo speaks to media at a fundraiser at Tweed Heads. Picture: Channel 7

“I unbuckled my seatbelt and I tried to go up for air.''

Guardians save the galaxy again from today

FOR REVIEW AND PREVIEW PURPOSES ONLY. From left, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) in a scene from the movie Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2. Supplied by Marvel.

Volume 2 opens today locally

Local Partners

Amber Heard, billionaire Elon Musk in Queensland

ACTRESS Amber Heard’s billionaire boyfriend Elon Musk has finally been spotted out and about in on the Gold Coast.

Guardians save the galaxy again from today

FOR REVIEW AND PREVIEW PURPOSES ONLY. From left, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) in a scene from the movie Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2. Supplied by Marvel.

Volume 2 opens today locally

Dave Hughes almost went too far in Logies monologue

Dave Hughes skewered the A-list in his opening monologue

Mackay lawyer dishes on MKR behind the scenes

Della Whearty from MKR.

Mackay lawyer talks her My Kitchen Rules journey.

Movie review: Going in Style a grey-powered crowd pleaser

Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine in a scene from the movie Going in Style.

The tale of three men and a mobility scooter a tad formulaic.

Logies 2017: Meldrum's odd speech as Samuel Johnson wins Gold

Samuel Johnson shows off his Best Actor gong before going onto win the Gold.

Samuel Johnson named Gold Logie Winner of the 59th Annual TV Week Gold Logie...

Lisa Curry and fiance sell up Sunshine Coast property

I'm a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here! contestant Lisa Curry with partner Mark Tabone after being evicted from the South African jungle. Picture: Dylan Robinson ***EMBARGOED 7:30pm March 9th***

Plans for dream home on hold at Mount Mellum place on market

SOLD: Iconic M'boro pub set to be transformed

Shane Muller from Maryborough Motorcycles will be opening up a showroom and café at the Shamrock Hotel.

The Shamrock Hotel is set to be transformed in the next two months.

Coast developer looks to prime real estate's future

MANY OPTIONS: Sunshine Coast developer Graeme Juniper is considering what to do with a prime piece of real estate he owns on Radical Bay on Magnetic Island, near Townsville.

Radical Bay is World Environment Heritage-listed.

This small box of a unit just sold for $1 million

Elizabeth Bay unit has charming views to Sydney Heads.

If this doesn't scream 'housing bubble', nothing does.

MILLIONAIRES ROW: Is this Toowoomba's biggest house?

STUNNING PROPERTY: The home in lot five at Kara View Court is framed with Table Top Mountain as a backdrop.

When entering Kara View Crt, it's hard to ignore the stunning home

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!