Drones are being used to map the St. Lawrence River

Drones St. Lawrence River

The St. Lawrence River in Canada has long been an area for researchers and scientists to track the animals to learn more. Drones have now joined in on the fun by allowing the River Institute to map the river and track the wildlife at a much lower cost.

With the River Institute, fish biologist Matt Windle began using drones back in 2013 to track the critically endangered American eels. The eels were equipped with a tracker that the drone could pick up and watch as the eels made their way down the river.

Before this, Windle and his team would track the eels by chasing after them in a boat to keep in range of the signal. Not only was this hard to do, but it also required multiple people and a lot of time to get usable data. Soon after, they rented a small plane to fly up and down the river, which also proved to be an issue. It cost way too much.

At around the same time the team began using the plane, other biologists used drones to count the number of fish in an area visually. This got Windle thinking and wondering if he could equip a drone with a receiver and fly it like a plane. And that’s how Windle and the River Institute began using drones to lower costs and improve the counting ability in the river.

Windle shares what the drones allow him to do from the air:

“Multispectral cameras can also collect information on wavelengths of light that we can’t see, which tells you about plant health. So, healthy green plants have lots of chlorophyll in them. And they absorb most of the visible light, and they reflect really strongly near-infrared light.”

Check out some of the other cool things drones are allowing researchers and scientists to do in the world of nature.

Photo: Victoria Windle

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