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Safe and respectful distance from sea lions and orcas

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by scottoftheforest, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. scottoftheforest

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    Anyone know the safe and respectful distance to be above from whales and sea lions without interrupting their peace of mind and behaviour?
     
  2. flpholt

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    yeah along way away 200 feet
     
  3. Helijoc

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    NOAA has published recommendations regarding marine mammals. Although they are out of date with the aircraft recommendations I would read the clause about harassment. Basically you can be fined for harassment if the mammal alters its behavior because of your actions. There was a post here where a guy was fined for flying too close to Orcas.
     
  4. scottoftheforest

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    That's about what my sense is too.

    I have a couple of friends who operate whale watching vessels, and want to offer flight video to them.

    They have very strict laws here regarding boat distance if engines are running (when they spot mammals from afar, they try to guess where they're heading, go there, kill engines and drift, in the hope the gentle giants come to them, which is a great way to do it for all concerned).

    I live the aerial views I've seen, but want to err on the side of caution and respectfulness.

    Thanks for the response.
     
  5. scottoftheforest

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    That's a great idea too. I also am friends with one of the leading cetacean researchers at our local research facility, so I will get his advice also. Of course we call him the Prince of Whales. ..
     
  6. Sinisalo

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    I think you will get some good information from the "Prince of Whales" that was mentioned here and I really have no idea how sea lions hear but I assume whales hear best when the sound medium is water, not air. Don't do it until you get an expert opinion, and maybe try to get it in writing but I think you will be able to get close enough to get some photos and or video.
     
  7. Air Ontario

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    Whales......100 yards or 90m when you are on or in water, 1000 ft 300 meters in aircraft in USA, mostly monitored enforced near Hawaii an I suppose Alaska.
     
  8. Jussaguy

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    Thanks for the question. I hadn't thought of that yet and I'm going to shoot those Sea Lions south of San Fran and north of Santa Barbra on the PCH soon.
     
  9. GoodnNuff

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    Read the links I posted, Washington State law doesn't allow you closer than 200 yards whether in air or water. Drone pilots have been fined for not respecting that distance in our state. And it is closely monitored throughout the Puget Sound and Salish Sea here. I've seen numerous boaters get fined each summer.
     
  10. scottoftheforest

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    Thanks all. Geographically it's interesting, as the orcas I'd be potentially filming cross back and forth between US/Canadian border all day long (not sure about their passports...). So GPS will be an important consideration. Complicating things further, this is one place where the 4th parallel isn't the border line. It wiggles all over the place in the San Juan/Gulf Islands.

    Always better to measure twice and cut once.
     
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  11. WetDog

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    I've had some discussion with NOAA officials and local whale biologists. Basically, whales aren't going to see or be bothered by a drone past 30 yards or so. They run into our boat all of the time and seem unconcerned (boat is drifting, engine up, sonar off). I've had Sea Lions will actually go up and check out the P3 - but they do that for pretty much everything including kayaks. Around here you have to beat them over the head with a paddle to get them to leave you alone so it's not clear who is bothering who. BUT... FAA / NOAA rules say 300 feet minimum from AIRCRAFT. And, of course, UAVs are 'aircraft'. So that rule applies.

    Another advantage of the Pro is 4k does allow you a 2x crop. That helps. 300 feet means little tiny 'see that little dot - it's a Sea Lion'.

    This is one of the major reasons I'm thinking about a bigger platform. Some sort of optical zoom is going to be needed for these these kinds of videos.

    Don't expect it to change much.
     
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  12. GoodnNuff

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    Again, people need to be aware of our State (Washington) Law of no closer than 200 yards whether in the water or air, and if you are closer, you'll face a $1025 fine.
    Canadian law states no closer than 183 meters (600 feet).
    These laws are easily and quickly found via an internet search.
     
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  13. scottoftheforest

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    So like Trans Can to come up with the nice round number '183 meters' :). As WetDog says, at least with 4k you can do some zooming in post. Of course 183 meters couldn't be straight up as then we'd be over the height limit for drones in Canada.
     
  14. TheRealNick

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    Below is what a turtle looks like at 200 feet. I measured the turtle at 43.5 pixels...then I calculated how long it was...anyone want to give it a try for fun? I actually thought it was a person in a tube and figured they were crazy. If I knew it was a turtle I would have flown lower for a better picture/video...

    turtle1.jpg

    zoomed in

    turtle.jpg
     
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  15. scottoftheforest

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    Not bad at all. Especially if as part of a video, this was augmented with conventional sea level boat shots.

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  16. TheRealNick

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    Thanks! This was a still, I was in video mode and then switched to grab a still...
     
  17. Meta4

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    These regulations are most likely from the pre-drone days and relate to distance limits formulated for boats, Cessnas and helicopters.
    Yes .. they currently apply but as a marine biologist that's worked with humpback whales I'd suggest that whales aren't going to hear or pay any attention to a seagull sized Phantom at 30 feet.
    I know that these guys don't respond at even closer distances:
    [​IMG]

    Be advised that Monterey Bay is a no-fly zone: Illegal drone flights over Monterey Bay sanctuary draw warning
    It would be a great place for marine mammals including these critters I shot there ... they probably wouldn't relax like this with a drone around though.
    [​IMG]
     
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  18. gringorio

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    It seems to pretty well covered here. Aside from laws/regulations, any thing you do, aerial or not, that changes the animals normal behavior means you are too close. Personally, I don't care if the species is threatened, endangered, a species of concern or an animal that is allowed to be commonly hunted. If you're close enough to alter its normal behavior, you're too close.
     
    #19 gringorio, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
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  19. Jussaguy

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    I definitely would have checked first and was figuring that but thanks for the heads up @Meta4