NOAA Scientists Use Drone Technology To Study Whales Off Hawaii

Posted: Aug 1 2016, 2:36am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 1 2016, 8:58pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
NOAA Scientists Use Drone Technology to Study Whales off Hawaii
Credit: NOAA

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Drone could provide a more accurate count of whales and dolphins around Hawaii island and could help protect them.

Drone technology has been used in a wide range of applications from surveillance to aerial photography to tackling the enemy in warfare.

Now, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists are employing this technology for monitoring the populations of whales and dolphins around the island of Hawaii. This will ultimately help in conservation of endangered animals.

Sharks and whales shy away from people and boats, making it hard to observe them closely. Large ships designed for monitoring marine animals also get stuck in severe weather and wind conditions in Hawaii and could not navigate properly and remain at sea for long periods of times.

To avoid these problems, researchers are now using a hexocpoter drone and are capturing aerial views of dolphins and whales in the region for the first time.

“This is the first time that we've used (drones) as part of our research here in the Pacific islands, and it's also the first time it's been used to estimate group sizes. We wanted a way of calibrating the observers.” NOAA researcher Erin Oleson, who led the expedition said.

The drone can help get a more accurate count of the individuals in a specific area since marine animals will not try to hide from drones which they tend to do every time humans approach them by boats.

There are more than 20 species of dolphins and whales in the waters off Hawaii. Tracking the population of each of those species is extremely important in context of understanding how these animals respond to the climate change and rising temperatures and what we can do to protect them.

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