Scientists Use Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to Study Gray Whales from Above


A rare opportunity to study how the environment limits the growth of a recovered population of large whales.

Gray whale mother and calf pair
A gray whale and her calf migrate north along the California coast on their way to summer feeding grounds in the Arctic. Photo credit: NOAA.

One recent spring day, John Durban, a NOAA Fisheries marine mammal biologist, stood on the California coast and launched an unmanned aerial vehicle into the air. The hexacopter—so called because it has six helicopter-type rotors—zipped over the ocean and hovered above a gray whale mother and her calf. The pair was migrating north from their calving grounds off Baja California, Mexico, to their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic. Read the whole article at NOAA Fisheries Feature Stories.