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Using Drones And Teamwork To Monitor Scottish Seas

Drone Operators Trained In Protection Of Marine Wildlife

Following a very successful large whale disentanglement workshop in Ullapool in late October, a group of Scottish Entanglement Alliance (SEA) project partners completed a two-day drone operator training course. This training was delivered by Brian Taggart and Matt Pickett of the US-based Oceans Unmanned, a non-profit organization founded to harness the power of technology to address some of the challenges our marine environment face, including marine animal entanglement.

Representatives from the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS), the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation (SCFF), the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) and British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) successfully completed the course in Environmentally Conscious Operations of drones to protect and limit disturbances to marine wildlife during research and monitoring projects.

In recent years Oceans Unmanned have been working on an initiative called the freeFLY program, designed to provide aerial support for large whale entanglement response efforts. By including drones in entanglement monitoring and disentanglement response efforts, responders are now able to track free-swimming whales and assess entanglement configurations remotely, decreasing the interactions between responders and entangled animals and increasing the safety of all involved.

During the two-day course SEA participants practiced various manoeuvres including safe take-offs and landings from shore, before taking to the water to practise these new skills in a more challenging environment.

Nick McCaffrey, a drone operator based in Shetland also attended the training event and shared his expertise and experience in the use and value of drones in remote areas to capture footage of both our resident and visiting marine mammals, including these two humpback whales seen off Lerwick this weekend.

To support the continued work of SEA and assist in future marine environmental monitoring and disentanglement attempts in Scottish waters, Oceans Unmanned generously donated two drone kits to the project.

(Images provided with Scottish Entanglement Alliance news release)

FMI: www.scottishentanglement.org

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