How Drones Are Saving Our Beaches

Guest post by Emily Folk

The tech industry has been making strides for decades. In the last few years alone, drones have emerged as an attention-grabbing innovation. Now, these devices are helping experts protect our beaches and the ecosystems and wildlife that come with them. 

A drone is a versatile tool. Professional-grade ones can fly great distances and have high-quality cameras for data measuring. Having this resource to help beaches is proving to be a wise investment.

Safety and Security

Since drones are fast and have camera capabilities, they’re optimal for monitoring various locations. In some coastal places in Australia, lifeguards are implementing these machines to keep watch over beaches. They allow specific lifeguards to watch for anyone in need or people violating rules. Each employee receives a two-day training course about drone operations and safety, then they fly the devices and act on any issues.

This method can improve several aspects of beach monitoring. First and foremost, the drones may pick up on someone in need that lifeguards cannot spot otherwise. Sharks, too, are frequent visitors of the area, leading to potential threats. This technology can also help lifeguards maintain rules and regulations, spotting activity that lifeguards may not see.

Sediment Monitoring

Dredging is the process of cleaning out the bed of an area of water. While it has several benefits, workers must be careful not to disturb the ecosystem or leave too much suspended particulate matter in the water. Excess amounts of sediment concentration can harm the beach’s ecosystem, wildlife or water quality. 

With drones, however, pilots can now monitor sediment levels. Since they can reach inaccessible areas, gather data and last in harsh weather, these machines offer a solution for dredging’s after-effects. As experts monitor the drone’s data, they can choose alternative methods to dredge or stir up less sediment. Experts can then convert the information into true-color maps and understand suspended particulate matter better. 

Coastal Monitoring

Global warming affects many aspects of our beaches. Sea level and temperatures increase, and marine life populations decrease. One of the ways scientists learn about these changes is through drones. On the California coast, for instance, pilots collect data by flying these machines over beaches and the ocean. The information consists of sea creature migration patterns and habits, population sizes, changes in water levels, temperature and acidity. As a result, scientists can better understand how climate change affects beaches and the wildlife that lives there. 

Elsewhere, on the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, drones can monitor things like seal populations. Since some species are decreasing in population, pilots can use these devices to count the number of seals that return to the islands. With the information that drones gather, researchers can determine the most practical next steps. 

Hurricane Forecasts

In recent years, hurricanes have destroyed our beaches like never before. Now, developers believe that drones could help alert citizens of these natural disasters, or even predict future ones. The machines would fly into the boundary layer of a hurricane, the place where the storm meets the surface of the sea. Then, it could collect data regarding temperatures, moisture levels, wind speeds, sea level and more. These measurements would then translate into the overall factor of storm strength. 

If the hurricane is severe enough, people might have to evacuate, and drones could provide better timing to do so. They could also help prepare more efficiently for future storms. If all goes according to plan, these devices will go beyond transmitting data and be able to predict future disasters. 

Drones — The Future of Beach Safety and Preservation

With capabilities like the ones above, drones are sure to be the frontrunner amongst the newest tech innovations. The next time you take a vacation, will you see these machines flying in the sky? It’s entirely possible.

Author Bio: Emily is a green tech writer who covers topics in renewable energy and sustainable design. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.

*Cover image FLICKR/LEE