1 14ULl b/tl Aerial Photogr,,.. y of M Mammals using a Radio- ControIIed Model Aircraft G. A. Sleno and A.W. Mansfield Arctic Biological Station Fisheries and Marine Service Department of Fisheries and the Environment Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec H9X 3L6 April 1978 Fisheries & Marine Service Manuscript Report No.1457 l\ f...
2 Fisheries and Marine Service Manuscript Reports Tiiese reports contain scientific and teclinical iiiforiiiation that represents an important contribution to existing knowledge but which for sonie reason inay not be appropriate for primary scientific (i.e. Journal) publication. TIiey differ from Technical Reports in terms of subject scope and potential audience: Manuscript Reports deal primarily with national or regional problenis and distribution is generally restricted to institutions or individuals located in particular regions of Canada. No restriction is placed on subject matter and the series reflects the broad interests and policies of the Fisheries and Marine Service, namely, fisheries management, technology and development, ocean sciences and aquatic eiivironnients relevant to Canada. Manuscript Reports niay be cited as full publications. The correct citation appears above the abstract of each report. Each report will be abstracted by Aq~latic Sciences and Fisheries Abstract.~ and will be indexed annually in the Service's index to scientific and technical publications. Numbers in this seiies were issuect as Maniiscript Reports (Biological Series) of the Biological Board of Canada, and subsequent to 1937 when the nanie of the Board was changed by Act of Parliament, as Manuscript Reports (Biological Series) of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada. Nuiiibers were issued as Manuscript Reports of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada. The series rianie was changed with report iiiimber Details on the availability of Manuscript Reports in hard copy niay be obtained froni the issuing establishment indicated on the front cover. Service des pêches et des sciences de la mer Manuscrits Ces rapports contiennent des renseignements scientifiques et techniques qui constituent une contribution importante aux connaissances actuelles mais qui, pour une raison ou pour une autre, ne semblent pas appropriés pour la publication dans un journal scientifique. Ils se distinguent des Rapports techniques par la portée du sujet et le lecteur visé; en effet, ils s'attachent principalement à des problèmes d'ordre national ou régional et la distribution en est généralement limitée aux organismes et aux personnes de régions particulières du C5nada. Il n'y a aucune restriction quant au sujet; de fait, la série reflète la vaste gamme des intérêts et des politiques du Service des pêches et de la mer, notamment gestion des pêches; techniques et développement, sciences océaniques et environnements aquatiques, au Canada. Les Manuscrits peuvent être considérés comme des publications complètes. Le titre exact paraît au haut du résumé de chaque rapport, qui sera publié dans la revue Aquatrc Scierlces and Fisheries Abstracts et qui figuera dans l'index annuel des publications scientifiques et techniques du Service. Les numéros de 1 à 900 de cette série ont été publiés à titre de manuscrits (Série biologique) de I'Office de biologie du Canada, et après le changement de la désignation de cet organisme par décret du Parlement, en 1937, ont été classés en tant que manuscrits (Série biologique) de I'Office des recherches sur les pêcheries du Canada. Les numéros allant de 901 à 1425 ont été publiés à titre de manuscrits de I'Office des recherches sur les pêcheries du Canada. Le nom de la série a été changé à partir du rapport numéro La page couverture porte le nom de l'établissement auteur où l'on peut se procurer les rapports sous couverture cartonnée. ocover design by Christine Rusk
3 Fisheries and Manuscript Marine Report Service 1457 April 1978 AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY OF MARINE MAMMALS USING A RADIO-CONTROLLED MODEL AIRCRAFT by G. A. Sleno and A. W. Mansfield Arctic Biological Station Fisheries and Marine Service Department of Fisheries and the Environment Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec H9X 3L6
4 @ Minister o f Supply and Services Canada 1978 Cat. no. Fs 97-4/1457 ISSN
5 iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract/Résumé Introduction The Mode1 System Ai rcraf t Camera Radio Control System Eng i ne Performance and Probl ems Resul ts Concl usions Acknowledgements References Illustrations
6 ABSTRACT Sleno, G. A., and A. W. Mansfield Aerial photography of marine marnmals using a radio-controlled model aircraft. Fish. Mar. Serv. MS Rep. 1457: 7 p. This report is a summary of an experimental project using a radio-controlled mode1 aircraft to obtain aerial photographs of a herd of beluga whales in the Canadian Arctic. Results, problems and possible future use are described. Key words: Aerial photography, marine mammals, behaviour. RESUME Sleno, G. A., and A. W. Mansfield Aerial photography of marine mammals using a radio-controlled model aircraft. Fish. Mar. Serv. MS Rep. 1457: 7 p. Ce rapport est le résumé d'un projet expgrimental utilisant un avion miniature té1 6-commandé, équipé avec un apparei 1 photographique pour obtenir des photos aériennes d'un troupeau de bélugas dans 1 'arctique Canadien. Les résultats, problèmes et usage possible dans le futur sont discutés.
7 INTRODUCTION The comparatively recent development of small, efficient multi-channel radio receivers and transmitters has enabled modellers to construct miniature remote-controlled aircraft of amazing performance and versatility. Their ability to carry out some of the functions of full sized piloted aircraft at a very small fraction of the usual cost has resulted in their being used in a number of intriguing ways: for example, they have been used successfully for photographing the dispersion of effluent from factories in river systems (Anon. 1976); for sampling air over cities and industrial areas to determine pollution levels at different alti tudes; for aerial spraying of 'insecticide over sma11 control areas; and, in a most inter~sting guise, for scaring birds away from airport runways. The latter example occurred at Vancouver International Airport where a mode1 aircraft, designed to resemble a hawk, was used with some success to frighten away large nunibers of birds which posed a threat to aircraft landing and taking off (Anon. 1975). The model system described in this report was developed from a need to count and study the behaviour of marine mammals at times of the year when they congregate in large numbers, often to bear their Young. The remoteness of some of the localities involved, the need for repeated counts, often several times dai ly, and the inevi tabl e budgetary restraints, precluded the possibility of chartering a full-sized aircraft for the amount of time required. During the summer of 1977 the model was used at Cunningham Inlet, northern Somerset Island, NWT to photograph a herd of beluga or white
8 whales (Delphinapterus leucas) which are known to concentrate in the Cunningham River delta every summer from mid July until mid August. THE MODEL SYSTEM Ai rcraf t A careful assessment of design characteristics and practical experience of the performance suggested the Senior Telemaster as a suitable prototype. The mode1 was purchased in kit form and was constructed at Our laboratory. Only a few modifications were required to the original plan to allow for the vertical mounting of the camera in the fuselage. The kit used was of German manufacture but is no 1 onger being produced; however, a sirii 1 ar kit of Pmerican manufacture is readily avai 1 able (Hobby Lobby, Brentwood, Tn, U.S.A. ). The Senior Telemaster (Fig. 1) has a wingspan of 2400 mm and a fuselage length of 1605 m. The dimensions of the vertical fin and stabilizer are 270 mm high X 240 mm wide X 880 mm long. Total weight including al1 radio and camera equipment and engine is 5.9 kg. Camera The camera used was a 35 mm Olympus OM1 with motor drive. This was chosen as it is the smallest, most lightweight camera for which a compact motor drive unit is available. Both 50 mm (standard) and 24 mm (wide angle) lenses were used. A special triggering arm was built into the fuselage of the aircraft to depress the shutter release on command from the radio transmitter. Shutter speed was set at 1/500 sec. for maximum clarity, and the lens opening was set
9 according to light conditions. Focus was set at infinity as - al1 exposures were taken at an altitude in excess of 60 metres. Film type used was 36 exposure Ektachrome 200. Exposures could be taken at any desired interval as fast as 1 exposure per second with the motor drive control set on manual. With the control set on automatic, a 36 exposure roll could be taken in less than 10 seconds. The camera was mounted on foam rubber blocks to minimize vibration from the aircraft engine. Radio Control System The radio control equipment (Futaba, Mode1 FP-6FN) consists of a 6 channel proportional transmitter with enclosed battery pack, each channel capable of performing one function; a six channel receiver, placed in the aircraft fuselage; a separate battery pack for the receiver which is also placed in the fuselage and connected to the receiver with a removable wire harness; and 5 servo motors connected to the receiver with wire harnesses, each perfoming one control function. Five radio channels were used, 1 for camera operation and 4 for ai rcraft control (ai 1 erons, elevator, rudder and throttle). The effective range of the radio system was in excess of 1.5 kilometres. An a/c power source such as a small portable generator (Honda 300) is required to charge transmitter and receiver batteries. A11 batteries used in the radio system are rechargeable nickel -cadmium type. Battery life between charges is about 1% hours.
10 Engine 3 The engine is a standard 2 cycle, 1000 mm displacement glow-plug type mode1 aircraft engine (O. S. Max. 60 FSR) wi th throttle control, producing 1.7 h.p. at 16,000 rpm. Engine speeds range from 2000 rpm (idle) to 14,000 rpm, turning a 300 n propeller. A 500 ml fuel tank allows an engine running time of 30 minutes. The engine can be shut off at any time on command from the transmitter. PERFORMANCE AND PROBLEMS The aircraft performed extremely well and no problems were experienced with the flight controls or the camera control. One of the problems encountered was in finding approximately 50 m of relatively level ground suitable for take-off and landing. The only area available was about 1 km from the main concentration of bel ugas, which necessitated having a man with binoculars stand beside.the controller at a11 times. In the event that the controller might lose sight of the aircraft, the. man with the binoculars could describe its position, altitude, attitude, and direction of travel. Another man stationed close to the whale concentrations was in radio contact with the controller, and could tell him when the aircraft was in a position where exposures should be taken. Weather conditions, including low ceilings, fog, rain, and gusty winds, greatly affected the operation of the aircraft. The aircraft was not flown when wind speed exceeded 30 km/h. Another problem encountered was in maintaining the same altitude for the period of time during which photographs were being taken. It is difficul t to judge aircraft alti tude from the ground, particularly
11 at long range, and if several passes were necessary to photograph the whole area or concentration of animals, differences in altitude of + or - 20 metres could be expected on each pass.. RESULTS High altitude photos ( metres), using the wide angle lens, enabled us to photograph the beluga concentration in the river delta, these animals making up about 90% of the total number of belugas in the inlet. Small groups of ariimals could always be seen 3 to 5 km from the delta and were out of range of the aircraft. Some high altitude photographs were taken through thin cloud patches under 300 m, which were not visible from the ground. clarity was not good. These photos tended to be fuzzy and However, sufficient exposures were made between these patches of cloud to enable accurate counts of al1 animals in the del ta to be obtained. Lower altitude photos ( m) using the standard 50 mm lens. enabled us to determine the percentages of adults, immatures, and new-born young in the herd. extremely good (Fig. 2). Clarity and detail from the lower altitude photos were Little, if any, disturbance was caused by the mode1 aircraft flying at m over the animals since no abnormal behavior was observed during or after the flights. Much disturbance was caused when full-sized aircraft flew over the herd at an altitude of about 300 m. On several occasions when flown over by full-sized aircraft, the herd was observed to disperse immediately, most animals leaving the inlet altogether. After this type of disturbance the herd did not return to normal size for a pericd of UD to 2 days.
12 As expected, the behavior of animals is difficult to ascertain from still photographs. Howeve~ the photographs showed that adult animal s (probably females) with young tend to segregate from adul ts (probably males) not accompanied by young. CONCLUSIONS The mode1 system has proved to be of value in counting marine mammals and estimating the proportions of easily discernible age classes. It was also developed to study the spatial distribution of the polygynous land-breeding grey seal (Hal ichoerus grypus), but has yet to be tested in this capacity. Its application to the study of other gregarious animals in remote locations, such as colonial seabirds, is deemed worthy of trial. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to thank R. Greendale, W. Hoek, and D. W. Doidge for their assistance in the field. REFERENCES Anon Bird strike deterrent -- a feigned falcon. Science Dimension 7(6): 2-3. Anon Mode1 planes taking over aerial photography business. Montreal Star, 17 Nov. 1976, D16.
13 Fig. 1. The aircraft being prepared for take-off on a level grave1 bar (photo: R. Greendale). Fig. 2. An aerial photograph taken from about 150 m showing part of the. bel uga herd.
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