Aerial surveillance, but no drones to spot sharks off Redhead beach

There will be no shark-spotting drones in the sky at Redhead beach this summer. The program has been moved further north, despite findings of more large sharks off the popular beach than any other part of NSW.

Redhead beachgoers have not been left to completely fend for themselves. The coast will continue to be monitored by helicopters on weekends and every Wednesday.  

Drones sweeping Redhead last summer found 23 sharks, 16 of which were longer than two metres.

The drone operators’ tip-offs prompted lifeguards to clear the surf or close the beach several times. The pilot drone program was part of a Department of Primary Industries trial along the NSW coast to create a Shark Management Strategy.

At the time drones found more large sharks off Redhead than at the other trial sites of Kiama, Evans Head, Lennox Head and Ballina.

The trial was also expanded for the length of the school holidays after a drone found a three-metre great white shark among surfers in mid-December.

This summer the program has been moved further north to collect data at Byron Bay, Lennox Head and Ballina, leaving Redhead without any surveillance four days of the week.

“The NSW Government is committed to the ongoing safety of beachgoers and is doing all it can to minimise the risk of harm to both swimmers and surfers,” NSW Department of Primary Industries acting deputy director general fisheries, Sarah Fairfull, said.

“Sharks are a natural part of our environment, however a better awareness and understanding of sharks and their behaviour can help everyone enjoy the beach.”

Helicopters will fly from Stockton to South Wollongong on weekends and every Wednesday.  

The state’s most popular beaches between Newcastle and Wollongong are also netted as part of the NSW Shark Meshing Program from September to April every year.