Pilots Glenn Leigh Smith and Paul Davidson from Marine Watch will keep watch over beach-goers these holidays.
Pilots Glenn Leigh Smith and Paul Davidson from Marine Watch will keep watch over beach-goers these holidays. Blainey Woodham

Keeping watch from above

EYES in sky will keep watch over beach-goers along the Tweed and Gold Coasts with a new surveillance service.

Observer for the Marine Watch aerial surveillance service John Nielson said sharks had been seen each day, as well as thousands of sting ray pods in the first week of operation.

“I also saw a three-metre manta ray. We could see every detail through the water,” Mr Nielson said.

“We only fly 400 feet up – the length of a football field up in the air – and it is breathtaking.

“We’ve seen a few sharks off the Tweed Bar heading down the coast past Casuarina.”

Mr Nielson, a qualified lifeguard, said although sharks had been seen offshore they were usually not a cause for concern.

“We have seen at least one shark every day along the Gold Coast, but we just keep an eye on them.

“It is about sharing the territory and using preventative action to keep people safe.”

Mr Nielson said he and pilot Glenn Leigh Smith hoped to employ two full-time pilots and a team of lifeguard observers for the service.

“We can stay up for seven hours on a full tank of gas, where a helicopter can only stay up a couple of hours,” Mr Nielson said.

“Aerial surveillance is the way of the future and the strength of our operation is we work at a fraction of the cost of a helicopter.”

The service operates between 8am and 5pm every day from the Gold Coast airport’s sea air terminal.



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