Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image, UK: Shell Petroleum aparently using UAVs for wildlife monitoring in Alaska

A website not owned by Shell Petroleum, but one which closely tracks the activities of that company, has issued a document detailing what it believes to be Shell’s plans in Alaska this year under the title “Alaska 2007 program takes shape; environment, communities high priorities”, and within the details on Wildlife Monitoring, we found it includes UAV use:-

During the 2007 open water season Shell will be mounting a major program to monitor marine mammals and mitigate any impacts of the industrial activities. Of particular concern is the potential for impacts on the migration routes of bowhead whales and the consequent impact on subsistence hunting.

“We have worked this with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission and the North Slope Borough wildlife department,” Fox said. “From all our conversations they are both very pleased with Shell’s comprehensive approach to gathering data on the actual routes that the whales take.”

Marine mammal observers recruited on the North Slope will be stationed on every Shell vessel, watching for wildlife 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Shell has hired about 70 observers, Fox said.

Shell will deploy five passive acoustic arrays out in the Beaufort Sea, at intervals along the coast from near Point Barrow in the west to the Kaktovik in the east. Each array will extend about 20 miles out into the sea. The arrays will enable the continuous monitoring of whale movements during the open water season, by tracking whale sounds.

Aerial monitoring flights will patrol out from the coastline twice a day during daylight hours. Shell also plans to test the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for wildlife monitoring, although the company has not yet reached the point of replacing manned flights by unmanned flights.

“We are working on a program to do further testing this season,” Fox said. “We are very hopeful about that but we are not ready to replace the others yet.”

Shell has conducted some tests of wildlife spotting from drones in the Puget Sound, in the Pacific Northwest.

“There were a lot of things learned and it was a very encouraging result,” Fox said.

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