AUSTRALIAN researchers found that it was 135 times more likely that swimmers would meet a dolphin than with a shark on the beach.
Dron-captured videos show at least one big white shark, hammer, and bull shark floating off the north NSW coast, but showing a lot more dolphins, whales, and even fever rays.
Brendan Kelaher, a professor of marine science and management at Southern Cross University, said that although the original study aimed to determine the viability of using drones to help improve beach safety, the unexpected result was capturing seafood images difficult to reach in any other way.
The research was carried out by Professor Kelaher and the team at Southern Cross University in cooperation with the NSW Primary Industry Department as part of the Shark Management Strategy of NSW $ 16 million.
The team used drones to watch beaches outside Byron Bay, Ballina, Lennox Head and Evans Head, where shark pieces were recorded in the past.
More than 4100 large marine animals were reported, but Professor Kelaher, 47, said that more dolphins were seen than sharks.
"You'd see several dangerous sharks on these beaches in the last five years, but they were relatively rare," he said.
"We have found incredibly diverse marine animals and fauna living on beaches.
"It's phenomenal that we saw massive fever rays of up to 400 animals and create crazy geometric patterns, almost like someone did in Photoshop."
Professor Kelaher said the observed dolphins will play with sharks and poisonous cormorants or radiant rays.
"They have big brains and have a lot of fun," he said.
"That's why the beach is much more likely to visit the dolphin because they are curious and really interested in what is happening."
Academics have stated that studies confirm that the drones have become a useful tool to help with safety checks on beaches.
"Drone can look for sharks, they can let people siren get out of the water," he said.
"Or, if someone has captured, he can lose his personal fleet and alarm sound, which contributes to our ability to keep people safe."
Professor Kelaher also said drone technology provided a new way to gain insight into marine life.
"The drone technique is fantastic that it has given us an eye in the sky that we did not have before, because helicopters scare things away, while with the drones we get a preview of the wildlife that we did not have before," he said.
"There are really amazing things on our beaches, such as lots of dolphins and Bryde whales.
"We've seen them feed in meters from the coast, the whales would flood and the dolphins would avoid, it was really impressive to watch."
The results of the study were published in Marine and Freshwater Research.