Disturbance effect of small UAVs on Grey Seals
The application of UAVs in the field of ecology is being increasingly recognised with a number of studies using different systems for collecting survey, identification and measurement data for monitoring populations of marine mammals. The use of UAVs could be a viable and more cost effective alternative to traditional methods and UAVs have been trialled for seal surveys in the U.K., the U.S., Canada and the Antarctic. Seals and other Pinnipeds haul-out regularly, making these haul-out sites ideal for aerial surveys whereby species, counts and measurement data can be collected. Testing the disturbance effect of fixed-wing and rotor-based copter UAVs at various heights and distances at haul-out sites can provide useful evidence to inform guidance for future work using small UAVs for this purpose and also advice for the recreational use of drones near seal haul-out sites. SEACAMS2 are investigating the effect of small UAVs on the behaviour of hauled-out grey seals around Wales in collaboration with Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum.