What was once the stuff of modern-day surveillance and warfare, drones have now found their way into marine research.
The remotely operated drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been used to monitor marine mammals in Shark Bay Australia, according to Business Insider, and have become a useful tool for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study the dangerous leopard seal.
Photo Credit: Flickr/myfrozenliferozenlife
Wayne Perryman from NOAA said drones appear to put less stress on the observed animals than using a boat to get close.
"I think with large whales, with these little electric driven, multi-engine copters, you could probably land on one before it would notice," Perryman told Business Insider.
Here is some spectacular drone footage from researchers, whale watchers and even surf filmmakers:
And Take Off
Captain David Anderson from Dave’s Doplin and Whale Safari launches a drone that immediately takes in the scene of a pod of jumping dolphins off Dana Point in California.
A Blue Whale’s Blowhole
The folks at Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari film their first blue whale using a drone. The whale, spotted of Dana Point coast, is estimated to be massive – 80 feet long.
A “Mega-Pod” of Dolphins
While dolphins normally travel in pods of a few dozen, Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safaris’s research vessel found itself in the middle of a mega-pod of hundreds of common dolphins.
A Whale and Its Dolphin Friends
Captain David Anderson uses a drone to capture a pod of dolphins swimming with a humpback whale.The 30-foot whale earned the nickname “Gooseneck” because of the barnacles on his dorsal fin and had hung around the coast off Orange Country for weeks.
A Humpback Whale Tail
Not much is known about this video other than it was shot by Justin Edwards and has a whale artfully show off its tale.
Humpback Whale and Calf
In a five second take from the same film from Justin Edwards, a whale and calf have a play.
Getting a Barrel
Whale watchers and researchers aren’t the only ones using drones. Surf filmmakers are also getting up close and personal to their subjects from the new angle. Here a surfer makes it out of a deep barrel wave:
Carving Up a Wave
A surfer carves up a wave as it travels over a shallow reef break.
Drone Vs. Water
It doesn’t always end well for the drone. After what appears to be a wobbly flight from the get-go, a drone crashes into the water, but continues filming what's underneath.