We’re taking the UAV to the skies again this September for our second trial – this time focusing on humpback whales.
The team will include five Insitu Pacific personnel, along with five volunteer land-based observers, and myself. We’ll be operating from North Stradbroke Island in Queensland, where we can take advantage of the whales passing very close to the headland, allowing us to compare UAV sightings with those of the human observers.
- To determine the appropriate flight altitude (1000 to <3000 ft) to provide the ultimate image quality : survey coverage ratio
- To assess probability of detecting a humpback whale using this UAV system by:
- Conducting flights in a range of environmental conditions
- Comparing the detection rate within images to that by cliff-top observers
- To conduct one flight with each of two types of infrared cameras over both humpback whales and dugongs to determine whether it would help to incorporate these cameras as part of the imaging system setup (will IR cameras help us detect more whales).
Final week of preparations
In this final week before we all meet on the island, I will be organizing the gear for the land-based observations, including the theodolite used to get the distance and bearing to the whales, which is converted to a GPS location via a computer program called Vadar (by Dr Eric Kniest of the Uni of Newcastle). Insitu Pacific will make the final adjustments to the UAV’s camera payload. It’s super busy week but also very exciting.