Although this technique is already used in other cetacean species – including killer whales and right whales – it is still in its infancy in belugas. In addition to taking carefully-timed pictures of belugas with a drone while positioning the camera directly above them, we also simultaneously strive to shoot photos from the boat of the same group the drone is hovering over while staying parallel to the animals, as per our photo-ID protocol. That is the real challenge of this project, combining photogrammetry with photo-identification. Why combine these two technologies? In order to be able to recognize drone-photographed individuals and thus be able to track the evolution of their condition over time, whether during a single season or over the course of several years. In short, our new objective is to establish a health chart of all St. Lawrence belugas featured in our photo-identification catalogue.

The first few weeks served as a testing period and required a few adjustments, but in the end we got into a groove and managed to overcome this new challenge. And we’ll certainly face new challenges when it comes time to analyze the data! To be continued!

Preliminary identifications of the week:

Dl03 Pascolio

Dl21 Yogi

Dl30 Athéna

Dl45 Trèfle

Dl83 Vita

Dl113 Jetstream

Dl169 Blanchon

Dl173

Dl204 Mirapakon

Dl259 Neige

Dl266 Nics

Dl370

Dl393 Amalena

Dl497

Dl502

Dl512 Marjo

Dl579 Nomi

Dl1500

Dl1508

Dl1757 Blanche

Dl1903 Artsea

Dl1935

Dl1952

Dl2217

Dl9051

Dl9065

Field Notes - 27/7/2018

Équipe du GREMM

Led by scientific director Robert Michaud, the research team of the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) studies St. Lawrence beluga whales and large rorquals (humpback, blue and fin whales) at sea. The Bleuvet and the BpJAM leave the port of Tadoussac every morning to gather valuable information on the life of the whales of the St. Lawrence Estuary.

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