Drone technology is making it easier — and tens of thousands dollars cheaper — for researchers to study the health of the Pilbara’s dugong population.
- New drone technology is helping scientists reduce the cost of marine research
- The drones replace aerial surveys previously carried out using fixed wing aircraft
- These methods will make it easier and more affordable to study dugongs more frequently
Murdoch and Edith Cowan Universities have collaborated with researchers, government departments and the CSIRO to study the seagrass habitats of north-west WA, which dugongs use for food foraging.
Researchers used drones to conduct 240 flights in the Pilbara waters, covering almost 12 square kilometres per day, sighting 149 dugongs and analysing their seagrass habitats.
Dr Amanda Hodgson and Dr Christophe Cleguer, from the Harry Butler Institute of Murdoch University, worked with international researchers during two years of field trips to test the drone technology.