SnotBot goes tagging in Hawaii

Robotics Manager Chris Zadra and I headed off to Hawai’i on February 1 to work with Ed Lyman’s whale disentanglement team to trial and discuss new drone-based methods in support of disentangling large whales.

Iain with a line-cutting hook.

This was our second year working with Ed and his amazing team and while we were there, we had an opportunity to go out on a couple of whale disentanglement events that enabled us to get a much better handle on the process and problems.  I’m excited to report that as a consequence of this trip a number of different pieces came together, and we have a very exciting drone-based whale disentanglement solution that we are excited to pursue this summer.  

 While in Hawaii we also tagged a couple of whales with camera (CATS) tags pointing backwards (towards the tail – amazing photos below). Ed thinks that having this capacity will be very useful in documenting whale entanglements in the future.  CATS tags are hydrodynamically designed to point into the animal’s forward motion, so we were not sure if this would work but both tags stayed on for their timed duration. 

We also worked with Dr. Mac Lammers in Hawai’i, using our drones to put Acousonde Tags on humpback whales as part of a playback study that he is working on. In many ways this was one of the first drone designed experiments where the use of drones was critical to the study design. 

Robotics Manager Chris Zadra (left), Dr. Marc Lammers, and Dr. Ed Lyman.

On the more fun side I have also attached a video clip and a photo of me riding a bike in a park in Hawaii towing a surfboard across the grass. I am sure that the locals were very confused as to what we were doing. We were training Ed, Marc and team on the process of drone tagging. Since you can’t train on an endangered species following this board around with a drone seemed like a good tag deployment training method.

Those of you that know me well, I’ll take any excuse to get on a bike.

Onwards Upwards.

Iain & the OA Team

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