Forster drone operator Adam Fitzroy now shoots with a shark alarm.
Originally from Western Sydney, Forster-based drone operator Adam Fitzroy isn’t a surfer himself, but he spends enough time flying his drone around the Mid North Coast that he inevitably comes across plenty of folks enjoying the waves. Mostly he’s interested in capturing the sea life in these crystal clear parts – the whales, dolphins, sharks and fish schools – and lately he’s even had his footage featured on national television. But he’s also copped some heat, particularly over the vision he’s captured of great white sharks cruising popular local surfing spot, Nine Mile Beach – or Tuncurry Break Wall as it’s more commonly known.
Understandably not stoked about calls he was only waiting for someone to get bitten, he decided to take things into his own hands. But when he looked for some kind of alarm, he found there was a distinct lack of them on the market. So he made his own.
‘I had to take some initiative because of the amount of shark sightings,’ he said. ‘It’s not my responsibility to patrol beaches but if I do see some kind of imminent danger I want to be able to alert people.’
Currently in the process of patenting his design, he was given the perfect chance to test it last week. Once again filming a great white cruising along the beach at Tuncurry Break Wall, he sounded his alarm when the shark started to get worryingly close to a bodyboarder and a surfer. Unfortunately, the pair – who, despite being no more than five metres from the shark, couldn’t see it – took Adam’s drone and its alarm as a nuisance and ignored it. Luckily for them, the shark changed its course and swam out to sea.
Recognising that they probably had no idea what was going on, Adam took to social media and local news outlets to get his message out to as many surfers as possible.
‘I want people to know if they see my drone and I sound my alarm it's to warn them,’ he said. ‘Otherwise, all is well.’
He reckons it’s something all coast-based drone operators should take up, as no one wants to be the person to capture someone getting chomped without having warned them.
Considering how close Adam and other operators in the area have filmed sharks getting to surfers without them having the slightest idea, it’s not likely to cop a lot of resistance from the surf community.
Drone fan or not, it’s nice to know if there’s one buzzing above your head and they see something you don’t, they’ve got the ability to warn you.
No drone operator wants to capture someone getting chomped, but even fewer surfers want to get chomped on camera.