SEAL BEACH (CBS) — When lifeguards at a popular Southern California surfing spot decided to use a high-tech drone to keep swimmers safe from shark attacks, they got a chilling eyeful.
The drone flies up about a 100 feet, looks down at a wide area and when they see shadows they can focus on them. In a matter of minutes the lifeguards can see just how many sharks may be lurking just yards from the shoreline.
“This morning, we launched it and 10 minutes later, we knew there were 10 to 12 sharks in the Surfside [Beach] area,” said Chief Joe Bailey, a Seal Beach lifeguard.
A dozen sharks may sound scary, but Bailey hasn’t closed the beach.
“If we get bigger sharks or we get sharks that are aggressive, we are going to close the water. But right now, we have only seen sharks that are 5 to 6-feet long, non-aggressive, acting like normal sharks, feeding on bottom fish, doing exactly what we would expect them to do,” he said.
Bailey said he has flown the drone regularly for the past month.
On Monday morning, the drone recorded video of a juvenile great white in waist-high water at Surfside. Fortunately, no swimmers were in the water at the time.
Surfside is going to remain open to the public, but authorities have started posting signs warning beach-goers the sharks are out there.
Some of locals aren’t taking any chances.
“I was planning on going surfing tomorrow and definitely not now,” said one woman.
“Sharks are kind of like my biggest fear so that’s like very daunting for me,” said another.