Drones Capture Stunning Footage of Humpback and Gray Whales
Researchers are using drone technology to bring whale research to completely new heights.
On Sunday, the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Marine Mammal Research Program (MMRP) released incredible aerial footage of humpback and gray whales that's being used for important conservation efforts.
"Seeing them from above, it's giving you another complete view," Fabien Vivier, a PhD student at UH Manoa, says in the video. "And it's really amazing, because you can observe behaviors that you wouldn't imagine if you were sitting on the boat."
Stunning drone videos of humpback and gray whales aid new UH marine mammal research www.youtube.com
MMRP researchers, in collaboration with state and federal agencies and conservation organizations, are studying the effects of climate change, human activities and shifting prey availability on humpback whales and other marine mammals, according to a press release from the university.
"The main purpose is the conservation of these animals, so we try to collect information that is empirical, but that is applied for conservation outcomes," MMRP director Lars Bejder says in the video.
The population of humpback whales that migrates to Hawaii was delisted from the endangered species list in 2016. However, in recent years, researchers have noticed a decline in humpback whale sightings around the Hawaiian Islands, and it's unclear why.
The new project from will help investigate the possible causes of this apparent decline.
"Marine mammals, they are charismatic animals and people really care about them," Bejder says in the video. "Some of the studies that we are carrying out will allow us to provide information to conserve these animals. Very importantly, they are also sentinels of ecosystem health and this is really important, because they can help raise concerns with the general public about concerns that we have about the ocean health today."
Humpbacks use songs to communicate, search for food, find mates and navigate the seas, but their voices are being d… https://t.co/8fwYsFjYPv— Greenpeace USA (@Greenpeace USA)1541016007.0
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One morning in January, I found myself 30 feet up a tall metal pole, carrying 66 pounds of aluminum antennas and thick weatherproofed cabling. From this vantage point, I could clearly see the entire Punta Banda Estuary in northwestern Mexico. As I looked through my binoculars, I observed the estuary's sandy bar and extensive mudflats packed with thousands of migratory shorebirds frenetically pecking the mud for food.
There are currently few Motus stations in Mexico, leading to a large information gap. Julián García Walther / CC BY-ND
Red knots and many other shorebirds travel thousands of miles from breeding grounds in the Arctic (left) to nonbreeding grounds in Latin America (right). Julián García Walther / CC BY-ND
Motus stations require a high vantage point that overlooks estuaries. Julián García Walther / CC BY-ND
Any bird with a transmitter will be picked up if it flies within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of a Motus station. Julián García Walther / CC BY-ND<h2>Tagging Birds</h2><p>The stations alone can't detect these animals. The final step, which will happen in the coming months, is to catch birds and tag them. To do this, our team will set up a soft, spring-loaded net called a whoosh net in sandy areas where the red knots rest above the high-tide line. When birds walk past the net, the crew leader will release the trigger, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwMiA2iqVc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">safely trapping the birds with the net</a>.</p>
WhooshNetCapture.MTS<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6440038cdc58961906f5fa164b457688"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vwMiA2iqVc0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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