Territory may snap up croc-spotting drones

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Surf Life Saving NT will wait to see if a proposed crocodile-spotting drone program works in Queensland before trying to introduce anything similar in the Territory.

Chief executive Samantha Farrow said they would be watching closely to see how the new technology handled various tide movements, visibility and other variables before rolling out the initiative here.

“Then, funding permitting, we’d be looking at introducing something similar within the next few seasons,” she said.

“Those drones can be between $6000 and $30,000 so we’ll do our own trial when we can see if they have worked there.”

Ms Farrow said the Territory’s unique environment needed to be factored into decision making.

“I know they’re using them in Perth for sharks with great success but they’ve got great visibility and there is a lot of work that has gone into that,” she said.

“We have to make sure the technology can handle our various water conditions and quality.” Ms Farrow said there was a risk of creating a false sense of security.

“The worse thing would be if we went out and said ‘yes we have a drone on patrol’ and one gets through.

“The other side of the coin is that there might be more peace of mind for patrons.”

A four-day trial for a permanent crocodile spotting drone program began at Palm Cove and Port Douglas yesterday, which will see drones deployed at the two beaches to scan for crocodiles.

A permanent crocodile spotting drone program at Palm Cove, Port Douglas and Etty Bay will be among Queensland surf life savers’ top priorities if their desperate plea for funding is answered.

SLSQ North Queensland regional manager Rob Davidson said they had no control over croc management policies, but they could help mitigate the risk for swimmers with the drone program.

“The drones are going to enhance (our current service),” he said.


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