If the word “drone” conjures negative thoughts of spying and remote warfare, here’s something cheerful to contemplate.
Drones and digital tags are helping scientists study humpback whales in remote areas of the Antarctic, where in-person access is limited.
A partnership among Duke University Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Lab (MaRRS), Friedlaender Lab, California Ocean Alliance, and the World Wildlife Fund is using drone photography to study how the whales feed, how healthy they are, and how they’re being affected by climate change. Drone images are also used to count local populations.
Butterflies, that is. Although current interest in The Crown television series may indicate increased popularity for the current Queen as well.
Back to the winged kind. The World Wildlife Fund reports that the forest area where monarch butterflies hibernate during their annual migration — leaving the US and Canada to spend the winter in Mexico — has more than doubled, the largest increase in 12 years.
To help improve the butterflies’ chance of survival along their migratory route, conservation efforts include planting milkweed in the US — it’s the only plant where monarchs lay their eggs — and establishing flower gardens in Mexico to provide them with nectar. What a sweet homecoming!
No, the bears aren’t on patrol… although that would be something to see! Picture a group of polar bears armed with walkie-talkies, alerting each other to salmon sightings, thin ice, and the nearest watering hole (aka, cool bar).
Nope, this is actually something serious. As summer ice continues to shrink due to climate change, polar bears are staying on land for longer periods of time. This is dangerous to both humans and the animals who are killed in self-defense.
In Wales, Alaska, a patrol started in 2016 actively protects both bears and people using deterrents such as noisemakers, better lighting, and warning plans when bears enter communities. The WWF is actively helping other Alaskan villages launch similar programs.