CHARLESTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Lifeguards are trained to spot fins in the water and distinguish whether it’s a shark or not.

Last year, a thresher was spotted at beaches in Charlestown and Narragansett.

The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has a guide that informs state beach response to suspected and confirmed shark sightings. According to their protocol, if a shark sighting is confirmed, beachgoers must remain out of the water for 60 minutes after the fin sighting.

“The real origin for it was trying to help better educate the public and lifeguards as to the marine life out there that may at some point pose a risk to beachgoers,” said Conor McManus, chief of the DEM’s Division of Marine Fisheries.

To patrol the waters, the town of Charlestown purchased two drones. Blue Shutters Beach Manager Matthew Power is one of two FAA-certified pilots at the beach. The drone can be deployed within a minute.

“If the lifeguards have any concern about a fin in the water, we can send it up,” Power said. “Zoom in on it, because it also has a zoom on the camera to really identify and pinpoint what it is.”

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