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Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Gorgeous Drone Footage Of Killer Whales Is The First Of Its Kind
Earlier this year, researchers came together to investigate the health and habits of killer whales using a custom-built, remotely operated hexacopter. The study, which resulted not only in incredible footage but fascinating observations, is the first to incorporate a drone in the monitoring of killer whales.
Photo Credit: Vancouver Aquarium and NOAA
The study was a collaboration between Lance Barrett-Lennard, of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Research Program, and researchers John Durban, Holly Fearnbach, and Warne Perryman of NOAA. Together with their trusty hexacopter (which they named "Mobly"), and Don Leroi of Aerial Imaging Solutions, the team set out in August to monitor the health of whale populations from overhead.
It turns out a malnourished killer whale can look perfectly healthy when viewed from the side, and a whale that is visibly malnourished in profile rarely recovers. Previous research, conducted from helicopters, has shown thatmeasuring the width-to-length ratio of killer whales fromabovecan not only distinguish healthy whales from sickly ones, but do so before the whales become moribund. Past findings had also shown that monitoring whales from the air could reveal which whales were pregnant.