Using drones to look for reefs to snorkel upon
Flying drones in Raja Ampat! Where once we were confined to climbing Indonesia’s rugged hills and volcanoes in order to get an aerial-like view of local reefs and other shallow marine habitats we have now ventured into capturing these types of images with quadcopters. The technology of these relatively new imagery-tools has now made them easy to transport, easy to capture great photos and video, and we’d like to say easy to fly… Over the course of our learning curve with piloting quadcopters we have certainly had some disasters but the key is that we have hopefully ‘learned’ by doing.
Whatever the case, we did end up with almost perfect weather to capture aerial imagery along our latest CTA voyage through the Banda Sea and into southern Raja Ampat. Viewing the islands from a birds’ eye perspective allows us to look at our snorkel sites in way never before seen. Details emerge from aerial images that one cannot envision when in the water. We can look at the substrate composition, coverage, and general health in just a quick fly-by.
We can also scout potential snorkel sites and estimate areas that may have more fish than others due to their underwater topography. All in all, the limited use of quadcopters has provided just another way for us to observe and examine coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangroves throughout the vast areas we cover on our snorkeling trips. And thinking optimistically, as our flying/piloting skills improve we can only assume more and more detailed analyses of marine environments will be available to us.