Pioneering scientists lead the research of marine mammals utilizing drones in the most epic ways.
There are countless growing threats to whales and dolphins in the oceans, that range from pollution, ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, climate change among others. Many species remain critically endangered. Ocean Alliance is actively working with the daunting task of acquiring more and better data with the objective to protect and save these beautiful creatures. But collecting data of marine mammals is no easy task, it requires a permanent, consistent effort, the most resourceful brains and the best tools. Therefore, Ocean Alliance developed their Drones for Whale Research (DFWR) program, in which they have been actively utilizing drones in the most creative ways. Apart from using multirotor drones that actually fly a few meters above the whales getting right into their blow of misty exhales to collect biological information (SnotBot), they are also using fixed wing amphibious drones to capture a broad range of data on the whales and their habitat.
Dr. Iain Kerr, CEO Ocean Alliance, recalls after using the Aeromapper Talon Amphibious for over 8 months:
“Ocean Alliance is a Conservation Science organization, in that we collect data so that we can best advise wildlife managers and policy makers on strategies to help conserve endangered marine species. Alas Oceanography has long been a rich man’s game, prior to our acquisition of an Aeromapper Talon Amphibious it has been a real challenge for us to collect the types of persistent, consistent offshore data on whales that we would like.
Our Aeromapper Talon Amphibious, has met all of the key touchstones that we look for in a new tool, affordable, field friendly, user friendly, scalable and easily modified or updated. I really think that you have made the right choice with regards to hand launch and water landing. VTOL fixed wing drones (and I have tested a few) just seem to chew up too much battery time taking off and landing. While our work to date has been primarily flying our Aeromapper Talon Amphibious on Stellwagen banks to find and count humpback whales, we have been approached by two aquaculture groups (principally mussels & oysters) and a field marsh conservation group to demonstrate the capacity of our Aeromapper Talon Amphibious for their use cases.
Ocean Alliance’s Drones For Whale Research program has been receiving international interest, our lead drone initiative SnotBot has been featured on BBC Blue Planet Live and twice on National Geographic, once with Will Smith in the series One Strange Rock. Also, more than 18 groups worldwide now use protocols we have developed with SnotBot for whale research. We are excited to have added the Aeromapper Talon Amphibious to our drone stable and I am sure will have more exciting news to report on when we get back into the field.
I think that the Aeromapper Talon represents one of the best solutions out there for offshore research, monitoring and mapping. The hand launch water landing option makes the best use of battery and support resources. Those engaged in the new blue economy need the type of solution that Aeromao Inc., is offering, affordable, field friendly, scalable, robust and user friendly!”
- Credits: Ocean Alliance: https://whale.org/
- Drones for Whale research: https://whale.org/dfwr/
- Adopt a whale!: https://whale.org/adopt-a-whale/
- About the SnotBot: https://whale.org/snotbot/