Picture of a large group of blacktip sharks in bright aquamarine waters, seen from above by drone.

How drones are revolutionizing our understanding of sharks

Aerial footage can provide real-time information about sharks’ presence near beaches, as well as insight into their unique behaviors.

Blacktip sharks cluster in warm shallow waters off Miami in a drone photograph. 
Photograph by Sydney Petersen, National Geographic

Each summer, thousands of people flock to the surf beaches of California and Australia, eager to catch one of the Pacific’s classic waves. But they likely don’t realize that they’re sharing the water with growing numbers of great white sharks congregating offshore.

The phenomenon has been confirmed using drone technology, which is transforming shark research with its ability to give scientists a bird’s-eye view of the animals inhabiting the world’s coasts.

Drone observations often can reveal more than Earth-bound research methods about shark movements, feeding habits, social relationships, and the animals’ reactions to people in their habitat. (Read how sharks form years-long friendships.)

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