f5-nz logo
Story image

The safest altitude for flying drones above marine life

12 Jul 2019

It’s a great moment when you’re out on the water with marine life all around you. But if you’re planning to use a drone for a birds-eye-view of nature at its finest, it’s best to consider how high up you’re flying that drone.

New research from AUT University suggests that you should be at least 25 metres above the water to avoid stressing marine life out.

Two AUT researchers took to Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf to understand whether marine life was stressed or disrupted by people who use drones.

AUT conservation biologist associate professor Barbara Bollard, and Master of Science student Ticiana Fetterman researched a pod of bottlenose dolphins off Great Barrier Island.

On board a boat, the two researchers conducted surveys to see how resting bottlenose dolphins react to drone-based vertical takeoffs and landings from three different altitudes: 10 metres, 25 metres, and 40 metres.

They also monitored the dolphins’ changes of swimming direction and frequencies of above-water activity, including jumping out of the water. These changes were recorded from an anchored research vessel before (as a control) and during the use of the UAV.

According to Bollard, dolphins often slap their tails, chin slap the water, and change direction to avoid the drone. The researchers noticed that this kind of behaviour increased ‘significantly’ when the drone was flown at the 10-metre altitude.

They also found that at between 10-25 metres the dolphins weren’t so stressed, and at above 25 metres there was no significant behaviour change.

This indicates that the safest altitude to fly a drone above marine life is at 25 metres and above.

Dr Bollard says although the study was on dolphins, the findings inform best practice for all marine mammals.

The researchers’ findings have been published in the journal Scientific Reports and will be used by marine researchers worldwide.

Story image
Hands-on review: Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR Laptop 
Gigabyte has produced a very nice laptop in the Aero 17 HDR. I’d have no problem recommending it to creative professional and enthusiasts that want to get the best out of their software tools. More
Story image
Rise in cyberattacks targeting the cloud as use of collaboration tools increase
“While we are seeing a tremendous amount of courage and global goodwill to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, we also are unfortunately seeing an increase in bad actors looking to exploit the sudden uptick in cloud adoption."More
Story image
Adobe releases extensive update for Creative Cloud apps
Premiere Pro, After Effects, Character Animation and Premiere Rush are all available for user update today, offering performance enhancements, new creative tools, workflow refinements, and more.More
Story image
Global device shipments to plummet by 13.6% in 2020
New research from Gartner indicates that mobile phones, tablets and PCs will see reduced shipments globally this year, due mostly to economic turmoil as a result of COVID-19.More
Story image
Cybercriminals exploiting virus fears to gain access to corporate IT systems
COVID-19 may have changed the way many people work, but this doesn’t have to mean companies must accept lower levels of security. More
Story image
ComCom seeks feedback on Chorus withdrawal from copper and broadband services
“By 2022, most New Zealanders are expected to have access to fibre at home. That means large parts of the traditional copper phone and broadband network may no longer be needed."More