Speed Reads

Drone On

Here's a drone's-eye view of killer whales

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Fisheries department, along with the Vancouver Aquarium, used drones to take photographs of killer whales, and the images are incredible.

The researchers used a remote-controlled hexacopter, complete with a hi-res camera, to observe the whales along the coast of British Columbia in August. The drone observed Northern Resident killer whales, which are listed in Canada's Species at Risk Act. Overfishing and climate change have left many of the Northern Resident killer whales without enough food, specifically salmon, to survive.

The scientists decided that the best way to keep track of the whales' weight, as well as details on their "health and reproduction," was to observe them with drones, the NOAA reports. The drones allow the scientists to see which whales are pregnant and how many of those pregnancies are carried to term, as well as "how fat or skinny individual whales are." --Meghan DeMaria