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Wildlife Monitoring By Drone

Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for environmental monitoring is being adopted by both governmental and private sector at an accelerating rate. These platforms allow entities to monitor vast areas in a fraction of the time taken by ground personnel and a fraction of the cost of using manned aircraft. There is also a dramatic reduction in risk and impact on the environment being monitored. 

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Bird Behavior and Nesting

In this orthomosaic we can see a large grouping of Cormorants in the upper right region of the image. This could be used to assess numbers as well as to identify areas that the birds normally congregate in and if those areas differ based on seasonality.

Marine Monitoring

Orthomosaics with a Ground Sampling Distance (GSD) of less than 3 cm can help identify seagrass more clearly when zoomed in. Newer drones equipped with high optical zoom and waterproof capabilities can be used to quickly assess whether an area contains seagrass or coral. If manual control link can be maintained, drones can fly at extremely low altitudes to make further assessments.


Orthomosaics can be used to show the extent of seagrass areas as well as the growth or loss of seagrass and coral beds over time. If a drone is specifically flown for marine animal surveys, it can capture images of turtles both above and below the water. It can also detect other dark shapes similar to the turtle nearby, including Eagle Rays and other potential turtles. To make visual confirmation of such sightings, the drone can either zoom in or fly lower. However, waterproof drones are not advisable in such situations as they may cause stress to the animals if landed nearby.

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