Most of us have seen dolphins either in the ocean or at theme parks and aquariums. But most people can’t claim to have seen a mega-pod of the sort filmed by tour boat captain Dave Anderson’s drone.
Using s small GoPro camera attached to a drone, Anderson was able to film a five-minute video of thousands of dolphins in their natural environment off Dana Point, California. Anderson also captured footage of three gray whales migrating and a Humpback whale calf snuggling with its mom. With his inflatable boat and quadcopter drone, Anderson filmed what he calls “the most beautiful and compelling five minute video [he has] ever put together.”
But using this sort of technology can be risky, dangerous and controversial. With it’s four propeller blades, the initial launch and final descent of the drone can cause injuries to Anderson. The drone that captured this footage is actually his second drone; he lost his first after a minor collision with the antenna on his boat. To help prevent accidents, Anderson now has small flotation devices attached to the drone. This preventative measure is not foolproof, however, as the camera-equipped drone is not waterproof and the flotation devices cannot keep the drone upright on the water.
Furthermore, drone use is controversial. Many people are trying to outlaw their use, claiming they could lead to major violations of privacy. But Anderson feels it would be a shame not to utilize the technology, given it offers steady footage at a low cost.
I learned so much about these whales and dolphins from this drone footage that it feels like I have entered a new dimension! I have not been this excited about a new technology since we built our underwater viewing pods on our whale watching boat. Drones are going to change how we view the animal world…[I]t would be a shame to have this new window into a whale’s world taken away.
If drones are used in the way Anderson used his, a world of possibilities opens up in terms of marine life research, tracking, and conservation and preservation efforts. For instance, drones can help find and prevent deaths due to entanglement in fish gear, which kills around 1,000 dolphins and whales every day. Check out Anderson’s breathtaking footage here:
A Special Note From Captain Dave:
“Attention any would-be whale videographers: please only attempt this if you are extremely familiar with whale behavior as it is illegal to do anything that causes the whales to change their normal behavior with big fines- and the authorities do watch YouTube. Different areas have different laws on approaching whales. I am a whale watch captain with nearly 20 years of experience. All laws were obeyed by us during filming. In Maui we sat watching whales from a distance for hours before they moved closer to us. You can never approach them there closer than 100 yards. The Mom and calf as you can see in the film were completely undisturbed by the small drone. NOAA is currently reviewing drones and may create laws or guidelines for using them around whales”
Video by Dolphin Safari