Sept. 19, 2017

Contact: Matt Pickett, 805-705-9802

Oceans Unmanned Collaborates with NOAA to Map Salmon Habitat with UAS

Oceans Unmanned, Inc. successfully completed an innovative collaborative research project this week to utilize Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones, to map critical salmon habitat along the upper Sacramento River in northern California. The project utilized both fixed-wing and rotary-wing UAS outfitted with cameras, thermal sensors, and a hyperspectral imaging system to test new approaches for mapping key salmon habitat variables including bathymetry and water temperatures.

In partnership with NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and Headwall Photonics, Oceans Unmanned flew multiple successful flights over two distinct areas along the river utilizing an RGB camera and a thermal sensor to evaluate systems and payloads and develop procedures and protocols for mapping critical salmon habitats.

Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon from California’s Central Valley are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and are one of NOAA’s Species in the Spotlight, the eight species at greatest risk of extinction in the near future. Currently, the lack of information on winter-run habitat conditions is a critical data gap. The tools and techniques developed in this project are capable of evaluating that habitat, in addition they have broader relevance for other salmonids and smaller rivers and tributaries.

“The senseFly eBee is our go-to platform for most mapping projects we support.” said Brian Taggart, Director of Oceans Unmanned. “This remote river area was extremely challenging to access and operate in, but the eBee is rugged, capable, and easy to interface with and adapt to real time challenges in the field.”

The senseFly eBee is a 2-pound, battery-powered aircraft with a four-foot wingspan, and can be equipped with a variety of payloads. The aircraft is hand-launched for easy deployment and can land accurately in a confined field or beach. It operates fully autonomously and has a flight time of up to sixty minutes.

Oceans Unmanned, Inc., a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization, facilitates the use of unmanned technologies and promotes their safe and environmentally conscious operation to protect the ocean and coastal marine environment.

MEDIA: Images and video available on request

Download PDF »