Shark spotter, Orion, is excited about his new role with Shark Watchers.
Shark spotter, Orion, is excited about his new role with Shark Watchers.

VIDEO: Meet our shark watchers

MEET Orion Sturch, the 14-year-old who will be droning the sea to save your life.

The drone fanatic signed up with Shark Watch at Belongil Beach today, with 29 others including Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson.

Unlike Ballina Shire, Byron council rejected an offer from the State Government to have shark nets installed, instead launching Shark Watch on November 4.


The volunteer-run organisation today achieved enough crew sign-ups to patrol beaches for sharks all summer.

One Shark Watch tent will be pitched anywhere from Cosy Corner to the Spit, depending on where surfers are.

With an $11,000 council grant one drone has been purchased, to be used in addition to Orion's device.

After training with drone expert Simon Jardine, Orion will be supervised by an adult as he sends his drone up to 3 kilometres from the shore, scanning the water for sharks.

"I can fly drones, this way I get to use the second best drone on the market and I get to spot sharks," he said.

Images will be sent to a tent on the beach where two volunteers, trained by marine scientists, to identify shark specie types.

German doctorate student Laura Stoltenberg will identify sharks and alert beachgoers, if a potentially deadly specie is spotted in the water.
German doctorate student Laura Stoltenberg will identify sharks and alert beachgoers, if a potentially deadly specie is spotted in the water.

Southern Cross University Marine Science Phd student Laura Stoltenberg will volunteer in the tent, after refreshing her CPR and First Aid skills.

"I'm a surfer myself and I wouldn't say I'm scared but I'm aware of the risks and I want to see people in the community protect each other," she said.

Shark Watch spokesman Andrew Nieuwenhof said there will also be a binocular shark spotter and if a dangerous shark is sighted an alarm will sound to evacuate the beach.

"We'll alert people at the beach where there's a shark in the water," he said.

"To ward against spotter fatigue a crew will only do a two hour shift, so everyday 16 crew are required.

"We're always looking for more volunteers."

Jack Catchpolle of Bangalow donated $25 to Shark Watch.

 

Jack Catchpoole donated to Shark Watch today, because he's against shark nets.
Jack Catchpoole donated to Shark Watch today, because he's against shark nets.

 

"I don't think nets are the answer, they catch turtles and dolphins, and from what I understand they don't actually stop the sharks," he said.

If a surfer is bitten, the Shark Watchers have a shark bite first aid kit, specially designed by Ballina Shire Lifeguard supervisor Rouben Roxborough.

He has attended every shark attack on the North Coast for the last two years.



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