Photogrammetry with an Unmanned Aerial System to Assess Body Condition and Growth of Blainville's Beaked Whales
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration La Jolla United States
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We propose to use the NOAA APH-22 marine hexacopter as an Unmanned Aerial System UAS to obtain vertical images of whale lengths and width profiles. This small, battery-powered platform is quiet, cost-effective and safe to operate from small boats, and can hover over animal groups. We will launch the hexacopter from a boat platform to fly short missions over beaked whales when they are sighted close-by at the surface, obtaining high resolution digital images from a height of approximately 30m. We will validate this system for beaked whales during a field trial in summer 2016 south of Great Abaco Island, northern Bahamas, where a photo-identification study over 18 years has demonstrated high site-fidelity of Md.