Whatever you think of drone technology, this may be one use that we can all agree on.
The captain of a whale-watching boat who’s also a filmmaker sent a drone with a camera into the sky to capture a stunning event: thousands of common dolphins in a super- or megapod speeding through the waters off California, destination unknown. His gorgeous video of Delphinus delphis, which includes a mama whale nuzzling its baby, is here.
The View From Above
Captain Dave Anderson, of Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari in Dana Point, California, regularly revs up his inflatable to go in search of marine mammals to film. When he finds them, he launches his GoPro-equipped, remote-controlled drone—at about 2.8 pounds, it looks like a toy helicopter—to capture moving images you could never see from the boat. (Read “The Drones Come Home” in National Geographic magazine.)
Later he lines up his boat just so and catches the flying vehicle in his hands before it splashes into the sea. So far he’s had to dive in after his equipment only once, and he was more worried about losing a day’s whale footage than about the drone—or himself. (It was January.)
In a megapod, which can be more than five miles wide, dolphins (sometimes a mix of species) are not just spread across the sea surface but stacked up vertically. So what you see flying through the air in a “stampede”—when the animals “porpoise,” or leap out of the water, their fastest form of locomotion—is only a fraction of the whole group.
“Sometimes they come together and start to move gradually, but other times it’s like someone fired a gun, and they take off,” says Anderson. “Every time I see dolphins stampeding, I am in disbelief. It’s so emotional. There are no words to describe it. That’s why I film it—so that others can experience it and will care about these beautiful animals.”
Read the whole article here.