A scientist at the Southern Cross University is using drones to monitor humpback whales due to the commercial exploitation they have faced over the last century. The drones will be used to capture key characteristics of the whales along the west and east coasts of Australia.
Ph.D. candidate Grace Russell is utilizing drones to monitor and track humpback whales along the west and east coast of Australia to take photogrammetry images of them.
Grace Russell will use the drones to capture images of the whales, which will later be used for measurements and body conditions of the individual whales. Grace also shared a statement regarding the usage of drones and why she is wanting to monitor the whales.
Grace plans to start her first stage of research later this year on the east coast of Australia in early June.
“I’ll use photogrammetry techniques to get morphometric (size and shape) measurements and individual body condition. I’m hypothesising that there will be a different relationship between body condition and migration timing between the west and east coast populations. This is because there are significant feeding opportunities where humpbacks have been observed feeding in Eden, Tasmania, and New Zealand. What these feeding opportunities mean for body condition and migration timing we are not too sure, but it will be interesting to see the results. Improving our understanding of body condition in free-living whales can lead to improved knowledge on reproductive capacity, population health and viability, and understanding responses to environmental and anthropogenic changes. Despite its importance, little information is available on the relationship between humpback migration and body condition.”
It’s always great to see drones supporting the world’s animals and ensuring we are helping them in any way we can. What are your thoughts on drones being used to monitor humpback whales? Let us know in the comments below.
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Photo: Southern Cross University