× Search
Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Whales & Drones

Whales & Drones


Humpback whales, Western Pacific (credit: Wayne Osborn, The Whale Diaries)

Marine mammals including orcas, dolphins, and whales are hard to follow with boats. To not disrupt their feeding, breaching, and other social activities, remotely controlled drones provide a good alternative for tracking and monitoring the giant creatures. A drone equipped with high-powered camera gear can observe whale behaviors without any disturbance to the animals.

When pods of humpback whales were observed fishing by a research vessel in Prince William Sound, Alaska, drones were effective monitors. The research crew utilized an aerial drone to watch the whales cooperate and build bubble nets to corral fish. Among humpbacks, this behavior appears unique to Alaska and is taught by elders to immature whales. If the mammals noticed the drone, they probably saw it as some strange bird and continued with their activities. The drone watched the whales feeding but the remote-controlled robot couldn't hear underwater to listen in on the group harmonies that humpbacks are so famous for creating. WHB  

                  Humpback whales feeding in Alaska (credit: Outer Shores Expeditions)

223 Rate this article:
No rating
Please login or register to post comments.


Terms Of UsePrivacy StatementCopyright 2010-2021 by SWP Media, Inc.
Back To Top