January update from Southern California! SR3’s Dr. Holly Fearnbach and colleagues from Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) have now completed 45 flights over almost 100 individual bottlenose dolphins off the coast of San Diego. They are using an unmanned hexacopter to obtain vertical images to study the health of individual dolphins.
How do they do this?
Step 1: Collect boat-based photo-identification images to link to individual dolphins with known life histories
Step 2: Identify unique individuals from aerial images and link to boat-based images
Step 3: Use photogrammetry (the science of making measurements from photographs) to measure aerial images to assess patterns of growth, body condition and pregnancy rates of known individuals.
Holly just started a month-long project assessing the health of humpback and killer whales in the rapidly changing environment of the Antarctic Peninsula- so check back soon!