Update on Our Old Friend Owl

During this Gulf of Maine field season, while collecting thermal imaging samples on Jeffrey’s Ledge, we were delighted to run into an old friend of ours, Owl. Owl is a 33 year old humpback whale, born in 1986 to her mother Falco. She is one of our adoptable whales and one that has stolen our heart over the years.

Owl has two distinct  black “eye” marks on the underside of her left and right flukes, which is how she got her name. She is very curious and sometimes can get herself into trouble by getting a little close to boats. Owl has scars on her back from not one, but two ship strikes when she was younger and in 2018 she was a little too close and got herself caught in a fishing boat net.

While using our FLIR thermal camera mounted to our DJI Matrice 210, we were able to take video and images of Owl and measure the thermal temperature of the scars on her back. The scars may appear healed on the outside, (regular photo, below left) but we hope that the thermal images (below, right) might tell us much more about what might be going on the inside. We already know that drones like SnotBot® are able to give us a non-invasive health assessment of whales, but this demonstrates there is so much more potential for drones in marine mammal and environmental science.

Thankfully, these incidents haven’t seemed to slow her down and she appears to be a healthy humpback whale.  If you would like to show your support for Ocean Alliance’s Drones for Whale Research work and your love for Owl, please adopt her today!  https://shop.whale.org/products/owl

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