Editor’s Note: Special thanks to science educator Michael Windelspecht for the news tip.
Drones have improved the study and sustainability of whales by leaps and bounds over the past few years. From efforts to curb whale hunting, to researching the sea mammals’ snot (there’s a good reason for that), to helping preserve threatened species like the sperm whale.
A new research study headed by Fredrik Christiansen, a fellow with the Danish Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, is enhancing the drone’s reputation as a whale lover even more.
Using drone imagery, Christiansen’s team can accurately estimate the weight of whales without invasive techniques. Why is this important? In the past, only stranded or dead whales could be weighed or measured. In an article in the British Ecological Journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, the team discovered gathering more accurate body-size data from whales will allow researchers to learn more about the physiology and ecology of whales in their natural habitat.