Saturday, October 20 , 2018, 1:21 pm | Fair 86º

 
 
 
 

Oceans Unmanned Launches ECO-Drone Program

Scientists and resource managers are increasingly concerned that the proliferation of affordable drones can be disruptive to wildlife if not used safely, appropriately, and responsibly.

Acute or chronic disturbances can significantly impact a variety of species health and fitness by disrupting migratory patterns, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.

Oceans Unmanned, Inc. is unveiling a new initiative designed to address concerns regarding these systems’ potential to disturb wildlife in a variety of remote habitats.

The program, called ECO-Drone, for Environmentally Conscious Operations, partners with federal and state agencies, industry, and education institutions to develop and communicate “best practices” to minimize or eliminate resource disturbance issues due to scientific or recreational drone operations.

The program has three primary goals:

Increase public awareness of existing marine resource protection regulations and policies that apply to research and recreational drone use.

Engage and educate recreational drone operators to respect ocean wildlife.

Encourage federal and state marine resource management agencies to modernize and refine existing policies and regulations to address the potential disturbance of drone use.

While initially focused on coastal and marine resources, the program will soon expand to address terrestrial disturbance issues.

“These inexpensive, off-the-shelf drones have the potential to revolutionize biological monitoring and inspire a whole new generation to research, explore and photograph our ocean coastlines and marine environment,” said Matt Pickett, director of Oceans Unmanned.

“But they also pose a challenge to wildlife, as previously inaccessible habitats are exposed to new disturbances. ECO-Drone will engage and educate the user community to ensure all wildlife and their habitats are respected and protected,” Pickett said.

While the disturbance potential for manned aircraft and helicopters has been well-documented and studied, the research on drone and wildlife interaction is in its early stages.

Scientists and resource managers are concerned this new technology will expose previously inaccessible habitats to aerial disturbance with real consequences.

As an example, just one flushing event of a bird off a nest can cause the loss of eggs or chicks, and significantly impact a colony.

"We are thrilled with ECO-Drone's efforts to develop best practices for drone operators,” said Paul Hobi, Seabird Protection Network Program manager.

“Seabirds are especially sensitive to drones, and operators can be good stewards of nature by avoiding sensitive wildlife colonies," he said.

The first two projects underway are a direct outreach campaign and an education partnership.

Oceans Unmanned is working with the Bureau of Land Management to distribute informational postcards about drone etiquette at coastal access points along the Central Coast.

Oceans Unmanned has partnered with DARTdrones, the national leader in drone training and consultation, in development of an ECO-Drone training module to educate drone operators at the beginning of their careers and businesses.

"DARTdrones is focused on training drone pilots to become safe, effective, and smart sUAS operators," said Ellen Clauss, innovation manager for DARTdrones.

"Beyond understanding a drone's capabilities, pilots need to be aware of their surrounds and their impact on local wildlife and various eco-systems,” she said.

“We are delighted to partner with Oceans Unmanned on the ECO-Drone program to promote and uphold these values and foster respect for the environments in which sUAS are flying," she said.

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

— Matt Pickett for Oceans Unmanned, Inc.

 

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of Dianne and Brianna Johnson
Dianne and Brianna Johnson
"We are committed to making our clients feel special by providing the concierge level service they deserve."

Full Profile >