Photos: NOAA Drones Show Killer Whales’ Beautiful Choreography


Scientists from the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, working with a team from the Vancouver Aquarium, have for the first time used drones to photograph killer whales—and the results are stunning.

The remote-controlled hexacopter, mounted with a high-resolution camera, flew over the waters of Canada’s western province of British Columbia in August. The whales were identified as Northern Resident killer whales, a population at risk under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (pdf).

The Northern Resident killer whales depend on salmon for food, mainly Chinook salmon. Climate change and overfishing has depleted (pdf) the area’s Chinook salmon supply in recent years and the whales have been left to survive on less.

NOAA scientists determined that the only way to effectively monitor the weight of individual whales was from the air. Soaring above the mammals at a high-altitude, drones appear to be the only devices that could deliver such high-quality, vivid imagery.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.