Drone photos yield faster, cheaper data on key Antarctic species.

Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division,

Scientists in Antarctica have demonstrated a cheaper, faster and simpler way to gauge the condition of leopard seals, which can weigh more than a half ton and reflect the health of the Antarctic ecosystem that they and a variety of commercial fisheries rely on.

Instead of spending hours to pursue, catch, immobilize, and weigh the seals amid hazardous conditions on the Antarctic Peninsula, researchers can now gain the same information from a single photograph taken by a small unmanned aerial system, popularly known as a drone. 

Read more about this project here.

  Leopard seals are among the top predator in the Antarctic ecosystem, preying on penguins and fur seals that in turn prey on krill. That makes the species a useful barometer of the health of Antarctic fisheries.
Leopard seals are among the top predator in the Antarctic ecosystem, preying on penguins and fur seals that in turn prey on krill. That makes the species a useful barometer of the health of Antarctic fisheries. CREDIT: Jefferson Hinke/NOAA Fisheries

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