A team of scientists at the Vancouver Aquarium, along with colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, first used a drone to monitor the herds of killer whales living in the Pacific, off the west coast of the United States.
Ocean safari. In 60 flights the hexacopter, a device built by the Aerial Imaging Solution and designed for shooting in the open sea, has collected over 30, 000 images and several hours of video. The project allowed biologists to discover the daily habits of different killer whales and identify pregnant females and assess their health status. All operations that to date, to be completed, required the capture of cetaceans with expensive and traumatic systems.
Telemedicine for whales. Orcas, when they do not find enough food, draw on their fat reserves; as it is consumed it is replaced by water. Thanks to the images taken from above, the researchers were able to measure and evaluate the circumference of the animals and determine their clinical condition.
As can be seen from the images, the orcas do not seem to be bothered by the presence of the drone. The device, unlike conventional helicopters, was practically invisible.
Big Brother. "The helicopter allowed us to observe the animals during the hunt, the puppies play with each other, and to understand the dynamics of the family groups, " explained Lance Barret-Lennard, one of the scientists involved in the project. "Our goal for the coming years is to focus on the population of killer whales living in these waters and to make sure they have enough food, " he concluded.