Nav: Home

Aerial drone photos can yield accurate measurements of leopard seals

November 29, 2017

Leopard seal measurements derived from aerial drone photographs are as accurate as those taken manually, according to a study published November 29, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Douglas Krause from National Marine Fisheries Service, California, and colleagues.

Body measurements are key to managing populations of pinnipeds, as their condition can reflect prey availability, habitat quality, and the overall the health of marine ecosystems. Leopard seals eat a range of prey -- including krill, penguins, and Antarctic fur seals -- along the coasts of Antarctica, making their body condition likely a valuable indicator of ecosystem health. While manual body measurements are generally accurate, they are also challenging logistically and can be risky to both people and pinnipeds. Notably, taking measurements by hand entails sedating pinnipeds based on guesstimates of their weight, which for adult leopard seals is upwards of 400 kilograms.

To find a safer, simpler way of assessing pinniped body measurements, Krause and colleagues used drones to take aerial photographs of leopard seals on Livingston Island in the Antarctic Peninsula, where a seasonally resident population hauls out along the coast. The researchers compared known body measurements to those derived from aerial photographs, using 50 images of 15 leopard seals at a variety of altitudes, ground surfaces, and body positions.

The researchers found that aerial photographs can be used to derive accurate estimates of leopard seal size and mass. This suggests that drones could also provide a cost-effective, noninvasive way to assess body condition in other pinnipeds, which is important because tracking pinniped responses to environmental changes is critical to understanding and managing marine ecosystems.

Dr Krause added: "We continue to develop methods to gather the data we need to manage wildlife populations in a safer, non-invasive way. The drones help provide measurements that are just as good as, or better than, traditional field methods, but without the need to ever bother the animals."
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE:

Citation: Krause DJ, Hinke JT, Perryman WL, Goebel ME, LeRoi DJ (2017) An accurate and adaptable photogrammetric approach for estimating the mass and body condition of pinnipeds using an unmanned aerial system. PLoS ONE 12(11): e0187465.

Funding: Funding for this study was provided by NOAA Fisheries.

Competing Interests: I have read the journal's policy and the authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: Co-author Donald J. LeRoi is the owner of Aerial Imaging Solutions LLC, which produces the APH-22 drone used in the experiments. His technical knowledge was invaluable to the design of the study, therefore he deserves co-authorship credit; however, he was not involved in the execution of the study, data analysis or interpretation and writing. As lead author of the study I certify to the editorial staff that he did not attempt to influence the results of the study in any way. And, this does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.


Related Health Articles:

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.
Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.
Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.
Geographic and health system correlates of interprofessional oral health practice
In the current issue of Family Medicine and Community Health (Volume 6, Number 2, 2018, pp.
Bloomberg era's emphasis on 'health in all policies' improved New Yorkers' heart health
From 2002 to 2013, New York City implemented a series of policies prioritizing the public's health in areas beyond traditional healthcare policies and illustrated the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
Youth consider mobile health units a safe place for sexual health services
Mobile health units bring important medical services to communities across the country.
Toddler formulas and milks -- not recommended by health experts -- mislead with health claims
Misleading labeling on formulas and milks marketed as 'toddler drinks' may confuse parents about their healthfulness or necessity, finds a new study by researchers at the NYU College of Global Public Health and the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut.
Women's health has worsened while men's health has improved, trends since 1990 show
Swedish researchers have studied health trends among women and men aged 25-34 from 1990-2014.
Health insurance changes, access to care by patients' mental health status
A research letter published by JAMA Psychiatry examined access to care before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and after the ACA for patients grouped by mental health status using a scale to assess mental illness in epidemiologic studies.
Community health workers lead to better health, lower costs for Medicaid patients
As politicians struggle to solve the nation's healthcare problems, a new study finds a way to improve health and lower costs among Medicaid and uninsured patients.
More Health News and Health Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at