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Researchers plan to use drones to count seals

IcebergThe Institute of Marine Research will use unstaffed, automatic planes - so-called drones - to count the seal population.

The Institute has been given NOK 4,6 million from the Research Council for a three-year project that will enable them to test the drones.

Flying can be difficult in certain areas, such as Vesterisen, located between Greenland and Jan Mayen. The use of drones will hopefully prove to be both safer and more cost-effective.

"Drones have never before been used to count drift ice seals, but has been used abroad to photograph coastal seals on the shore," says Kjell Tormod Nilssen at the Institute of Marine Research.

The drones will be operated by a research vessel, and sent off from a firing platform on the ship. They can fly for up to four hours, and will then be sent back for refueling and maintenance, which makes it possible to run several flights per day depending on the weather conditions.

The project's aim is also to develop a method that can automatically count the seals on the photos, as a manual inspection and registration demands too many resources.

(NRK/NTB)


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