Drones Revolutionize Oyster Reef Surveying With Efficiency
In early 2021, a drone flew at about 100 feet over the Gulf waters at a speed of 13 mph while emitting 700,000 laser pulses per second as it surveyed an oyster reef off the Big Bend Coast of Western Florida.
After completing the drone mission, the operators downloaded the data from the unmanned aircraft and processed it to obtain crucial information about the reef’s health.
Oyster reefs, crucial sources of food, jobs, habitat, shore protection, and water purification, are experiencing severe declines along the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts due to overharvesting and environmental stressors.
Traditional methods of identifying reefs at risk of collapse can be labor-intensive and impractical. However, drones are revolutionizing this process.
Michael Espriella, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida, explains, “In the time it takes a person to measure just one or two square meters of reef, you can survey the entire reef structure with a…