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      A comparison of image and observer based aerial surveys of narwhal

      1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 3
      Marine Mammal Science
      Wiley

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          Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for Surveying Marine Fauna: A Dugong Case Study

          Aerial surveys of marine mammals are routinely conducted to assess and monitor species’ habitat use and population status. In Australia, dugongs (Dugong dugon) are regularly surveyed and long-term datasets have formed the basis for defining habitat of high conservation value and risk assessments of human impacts. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may facilitate more accurate, human-risk free, and cheaper aerial surveys. We undertook the first Australian UAV survey trial in Shark Bay, western Australia. We conducted seven flights of the ScanEagle UAV, mounted with a digital SLR camera payload. During each flight, ten transects covering a 1.3 km2 area frequently used by dugongs, were flown at 500, 750 and 1000 ft. Image (photograph) capture was controlled via the Ground Control Station and the capture rate was scheduled to achieve a prescribed 10% overlap between images along transect lines. Images were manually reviewed post hoc for animals and scored according to sun glitter, Beaufort Sea state and turbidity. We captured 6243 images, 627 containing dugongs. We also identified whales, dolphins, turtles and a range of other fauna. Of all possible dugong sightings, 95% (CI = 90%, 98%) were subjectively classed as ‘certain’ (unmistakably dugongs). Neither our dugong sighting rate, nor our ability to identify dugongs with certainty, were affected by UAV altitude. Turbidity was the only environmental variable significantly affecting the dugong sighting rate. Our results suggest that UAV systems may not be limited by sea state conditions in the same manner as sightings from manned surveys. The overlap between images proved valuable for detecting animals that were masked by sun glitter in the corners of images, and identifying animals initially captured at awkward body angles. This initial trial of a basic camera system has successfully demonstrated that the ScanEagle UAV has great potential as a tool for marine mammal aerial surveys.
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            Distance Sampling: Methods and Applications

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              Wildlife research and management methods in the 21st century: Where do unmanned aircraft fit in?1

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Marine Mammal Science
                Mar Mam Sci
                Wiley
                0824-0469
                1748-7692
                May 2019
                October 2019
                January 31 2019
                October 2019
                : 35
                : 4
                : 1253-1279
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Shell Global Solutions International B.V. Kesslerpark 1, 2288GS, Rijswijk the Netherlands
                [2 ]Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life SciencesUniversity of Groningen PO Box 11103, 9700 CC, Groningen the Netherlands
                [3 ]Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, ℅ Greenland Representation Strandgade 91, 2, DK‐1401 København K Denmark
                [4 ]LGL Alaska Research Associates, Inc. 2000 West International Airport Road, STE C‐1, Anchorage, Alaska 99502 U.S.A.
                [5 ]LGL Limited environmental research associates 22 Fisher Street, PO Box 280, King City, Ontario L7B 1A6 Canada
                Article
                10.1111/mms.12586
                9dd8fcbc-1253-446f-9b7a-4abdad6d6cd7
                © 2019

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

                http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tdm_license_1.1

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