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“BLIMP-CAM”: Aerial Video Observations of Marine Animals

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Conducting behavioral observations of obligate marine animals such as cetaceans and sirenians is challenging. These animals usually spend prolonged periods beneath the surface of the water out of view of a boat-based or land-based observer. Observations from high vantage points can overcome some of these difficulties by allowing the observer to look down through the water and view subsurface behaviors. I developed a “blimp-cam”: a video camera mounted on a small ovoid-shape, helium-filled aerostat (blimp). This new style of blimp had a number of advantages over previous systems that have used the traditional zeppelin style, including being smaller, cheaper and easier to operate. The “blimp-cam” was flown at a height of 50 m, providing an overhead view of dugongs at water depths of up to 4 m and distances up to 200 m. I used the “blimp-cam” to obtain information on dugong behavior. I assess the advantages of this new style of aerial video observation system, its limitations and potential applications in the marine environment.
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Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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