For the first time drones have been used for counting seal pups.
National Trust rangers brought in a commercial operator that used a DJI Phantom 4 Pro (we have one of these in our fleet) to use its high-resolution camera to be able to access areas in the Farne Islands where the bad weather made putting a human ashore dangerous.
Making over 70 flights the drone was able to make the process of counting not only safer and faster, but also more accurate… increasing the physical ‘count’ by some 200 pups.
Atlantic Grey Seals have used the relatively sheltered Farne Islands for breeding and raising their pups.
Gwen Potter, Countryside Manager, National Trust, said, “The drone was effective, helping us to be more flexible and accurate. We’re in the hands of nature out here, and our plans for the day are always shaped by the weather.”
Seal pups are painted with a harmless vegetable dye so that they can be easily identified in the counts, and the National Trust has been responsible for counting the pups every year since 1970. a drone was first trialled in 2017 and was used to great success in December 2018.