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.
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.
Orthomosaics below 3 cm GSD can usually be zoomed to identify the seagrass more clearly. Newer drones equipped with high optical zoom capability, as well as waterproof drones, can be used to make on the fly assessments of seagrass vs coral. Drones can also fly extremely low to the water if manual control link can be maintained to make further assessments. Orthomosaics of seagrass areas can be used to show extent as well as growth or loss over time of seagrass as well as coral beds.
Images captured show the turtle above and below the water and also show other dark shapes similar to the turtle nearby. Further checks of the image show at least one Eagle Ray and many other potential turtles. When flying the drone specifically for marine animal surveys, these types of sightings can be further assessed using the drones zoom or by flying lower to attempt to make visual confirmation. In these instances waterproof drones would not be advisable due to the stress landing one nearby would likely put on the animals.