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Drone Captures Stunning Images Of Orcas

The use of a remote-controlled drone has delivered stunning images of orca whales, allowing scientists to study the whales from above for the first time



Photo credit: NOAA, Vancouver Aquarium

Scientists from NOAA Fisheries worked with the Vancouver Aquarium to study a pod of Northern Resident orca whales in British Colombia. The population mainly relies on Chinook salmon as a food source but fish stocks have plummeted in recent years which may have an direct effect on orca whale populations.

The use of a hexacopter allowed the researchers to get close-up footage revealing how healthy the whales are. The team spotted a couple of malnourished individuals but also a pregnant female - a good sign. Going forward the team hopes to be able to use unmanned drones to track birth and death rates of the pod and document the development of the population over a longer period of time. 

Listen to the podcast below for more information. (If you're reading this on a mobile device, click here: http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/podcasts/2014/10/aerial_vehicle_killer_whale.html#.VEZka4vF9t5)




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