Aerial shark patrols for Byron beaches
AERIAL surveillance over Byron Shire's beaches is in place for the last week of the school holidays.
Mayor Simon Richardson said Council was trialling aerial patrols with a gyrocopter from South Golden Beach to Broken Head until Sunday.
"Weather permitting, the flights start from 10am through until 4pm and provide instant shark sighting reports radioed back to local lifeguards," he said.
"The reports will include photos, location, movement direction, size and shark species where possible.
"We are also endeavouring to have a lifeguard on board the flights to assist with the communications."
Mayor Richardson said the Council funded service was being provided by Byron Bay Gyrocopters.
Instructor and owner Oliver Mueller said, as well as providing surveillance, his company would be taking local lifesavers on trial introductory flights.
"With regular helicopter patrols costing around $800 per hour using a gyrocopter is a much more cost effective way to patrol," said Mr Mueller.
"If there is sufficient funding and these trials go well the lifesavers may be able to take over the aerial patrols.
"The small open-cockpit helicopter can easily cover wide areas without the need to refuel for about 4.5 hours," Mr Mueller said. "With the ability to move slow and low, the aircraft offer a unique ability to observe what is happening out in the water and alert the lifeguards who in turn will alert beach goers.
"Hopefully over the next week we can learn a bit more about what is happening in our oceans and help alleviate some concern for residents and visitors," he said.
The gyrocopter runs on normal unleaded fuel and has a fuel consumption similar to a car at about 10 to 15 litres per hour.
Equipped with a double muffler system, the engines have a relatively low noise level.