When Dana Wharf Whale Watching last month posted aerial footage of a 70-foot fin whale, captured via a GoPro camera attached to a small quadcopter drone, we reported that this concept will catch on locally.
It affords a unique perspective of the gargantuan mammals, and the videos are a means for whale-watching businesses to bring attention to themselves.
Sure enough, Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari, a rival to Dana Wharf, has entered the dronosphere. On Monday the company uploaded a 5-minute video showing spectacular aerial views of an enormous pod of dolphins, migrating gray whales, and humpback whales.
The dolphin and gray whale footage was captured locally, off Dana Point and San Clemente, respectively. The humpback footage was captured off Maui, Hawaii.
Said Capt. Dave Anderson: "This is the most beautiful and compelling five-minute video I have ever put together. I learned so much about these whales and dolphins from this drone footage that it feels like I have entered a new dimension! Drones are going to change how we view the animal world. Wow!"
It’s worth noting that these quadcopter drones are about the size of model helicopters and weigh only a few pounds. They’re battery-operated and make less noise than the boats they're launched from.
NOAA has not published guidelines specific to drones, but cautions that whales and dolphins are protected animals and it’s illegal to do anything that could be perceived as harassment.
Said Anderson: "There is debate in many states right now about making use of these drones illegal. People are justifiably concerned about invasion of privacy. But it would be a shame to have this new window into a whale's world taken away."
–Photos show a humpback whale and her calf off Maui (top), and three migrating gray whales off San Clemente, Calif. Credit: Capt. Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari