Catch the full after-action report here!
Recently, a Florida resident named Jeffrey was diving in the Myakka River in search of fossilized shark teeth. He filmed his dive with a GoPro mount on his mask goggles, which was recording from the moment he stepped into the water. In under a minute, he was attacked from behind by a 6.5-foot-long alligator.
The GoPro and goggles fell off during the struggle wherein Jeffrey suffered a striking blow. The alligator chomped down on his skull leaving him wounded. He ended up receiving treatment in time, yet his head is held together by 35 staples.
Because Jeffrey was accused of provoking the attack, he asked other local divers to attempt to recover the lost goggles and GoPro camera that was lying on the riverbed floor. He hoped this would prove he did not instigate the attack.
NBC2 News, based out of Fort Myers, Florida picked up the story and hoped to prove his innocence. Jeffery stated on film that the GoPro will not show any provoking because the alligator attacked him from behind. He never saw the gator approaching and the GoPro was filming while facing forward. Because the first attempt failed to recover the GoPro mount, NBC2 News had another idea.
NBC2 News reached out to the FLYMOTION team, and we agreed to meet them on the Myakka River. “Most of the time, we’re giving this equipment to first responders—the guys on the front lines. We’re helping to put something else in harm’s way instead of them,” said Justin Swartz, FLYMOTION training lead.
Once on scene, we deployed the Chasing M2 ROV (remote operated vehicle), which is a complete underwater drone with an integrated 4K underwater fishing camera on board, piloted by a remote handheld controller.
Within 45 minutes of arrival, our unmanned submersible vehicle (USV) specialist, Chase Haley, spotted Jeffery’s orange snorkel on the riverbed. Attached to the snorkel were his dive goggles and the lost GoPro, holding the footage that would prove Jeffrey’s innocence.
Despite the footage being kept private by Jeffrey, citing emotional stress and trauma, he did share it with the NBC2 News crew. Within their original broadcast, they shared that it did indeed show a sudden attack from behind before sinking to the bottom while recording the river in front of Jeffrey. He would have never known the gator was approaching.
One of the major take-aways is to ensure your agency or organization has the tools on hand whatever the mission ahead calls for. Sometimes putting an unmanned system in place in front of human life is necessary. Having the right equipment to traverse rough ground terrain, underground, underwater, even in the air is paramount.
The Chasing M2 series ROV proved successful over human divers in a recovery effort to find dive goggles. If your agency or organization in interested in learning more, please reach out to our team.