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Drones Capture Stunning Footage of Humpback and Gray Whales

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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."

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