Conflict between humans and large predators is a longstanding challenge that can present negative consequences for humans and wildlife. Sharks have a global distribution and are considered to pose a potential threat to humans; concurrently many shark species are themselves threatened. Developing strategies for coexistence between humans and this keystone group is imperative. We assess blimp surveillance as a technique to simply and effectively reduce shark encounters at ocean beaches and determine the social acceptance of this technique as compared to an established mitigation strategy—shark meshing. We demonstrate the suitability of blimps for risk mitigation, with detection probabilities of shark analogues by professional lifeguards of 0.93 in ideal swimming conditions. Social surveys indicate strong social acceptance of blimps and preference for non-lethal shark mitigation. We show that continuous aerial surveillance can provide a measurable reduction in risk from sharks, improving beach safety and facilitating coexistence between people and wildlife.