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.

Fresh from the hydro hut to you

Rob and Narelle Andrews at their Burringbar farm.

Straight from the farm to the Gourmet Salad Hut.

Northern Rivers police numbers 'over strength'

THE BEAT GOES ON: Police numbers in the Richmond Local Area Command will remain stable after no new officers were assigned to the region.

No new cops for Northern Rivers beats

New music from Bernard Fanning isn't a pity

A still from the music video for Isn't It a Pity, Bernard Fanning's first single from the album Brutal Dawn, directed by Lucy Dyson.

The video clip of his new song is visually arresting

Local Partners

Water-wise way to grow gourmet greens

ALWAYS piled high with lush-looking fresh and healthy leafy greens, The Gourmet Salad Hut is one of the most popular stalls at the local farmers markets.

Toowoomba woman's Africa trip to share song

HERE TO HELP: Women in Harmony music director Elaine Coates (right) will travel to Uganda later this year to work with the African Children's Choir. Former members of the choir travelled to Toowoomba to perform last year incuding Elizabeth Panga (left) and tour manager Abraham Kiyingi.

A Toowoomba woman is preparing for a trip of a lifetime

Hundreds of cars going for bargain at record Coast auction

Mike Clayton at the Nambour car yard in the lead-up to a previous year's sale.

Impounded cars going under the hammer, no reserves

Sam Thaiday stars in Broncos’ carpool karaoke

SAM Thaiday has stunned with his karaoke rendition of Celine Dion.

What's on the small screen this week

My Kitchen Rule's mother and daughter contestants Valerie and Courtney.

MY KITCHEN Rules grand finalists face off and Love Child returns.

New music from Bernard Fanning isn't a pity

A still from the music video for Isn't It a Pity, Bernard Fanning's first single from the album Brutal Dawn, directed by Lucy Dyson.

The video clip of his new song is visually arresting

Anthony LaPaglia steps out with new fiancee

Anthony LaPaglia.

Actor Anthony LaPaglia engaged to much younger girlfiend

Ronan Keating a dad for fourth time

Ronan Keating and Storm Keating.

Bouncing baby boy for Boyzone star

Lion King remake well under way

Seth Rogen.

More Lion King remake cast members revealed

Affordable rentals out of reach for North Coast residents

Rental affordability hits new crisis levels

Falling rents could spell doom for housing prices

What if I told you housing in Australia was getting cheaper?

Couple gets rich renovating run-down city homes

RENO RADICALS: Baden and Nelson Marino-Hall have turned three Toowoomba homes around for profit, saying the Garden City was a haven for renovators like themselves.

The couple has already turned around three homes

Townhouse pitch raises questions over 'high density'

BIG PLANS: Residents have a chance to offer their opinion on plans to build 42 townhouses at Raceview.

Developer plans 42 townhouses for Ipswich suburb

7 million dollar city homes for sale right now

3 Keira Court, Blue Mountain Heights.

Here are seven of Toowoomba's best, and most expensive, houses

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!