OCEARCH Support with Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Bryan Franks, Assistant Professor of Biology and Marine Science, and Ross Stephenson, Assistant Professor of Aviation

The Department of Biology and Marine Sciences and the Department of Aviation launched a drone from the OCEARCH vessel to increase the range and probability of shark detection, reducing the average cost of per-shark detection. OCEARCH expeditions cost on average $500,000 per trip and each expedition locates about two great white sharks, resulting in an average cost of $250,000 per shark. The great white shark is a relatively shy animal that does not usually approach the OCEARCH vessel, so smaller boats are deployed to locate them. Because the fixed-wing Foxtech Baby Shark drone has a nine-mile range and 2.5-hour flight duration, the time to search decreased and the search area increased. Additionally, the Foxtech Baby Shark is ideal for shipboard operations because of its vertical take-off and landing capability.