Operational protocols for the use of drones in marine animal research

Vincent Raoult*, Andrew P. Colefax, Blake M. Allan, Daniele Cagnazzi, Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez, Daniel Ierodiaconou, David W. Johnston, Sarah Landeo-Yauri, Mitchell Lyons, Vanessa Pirotta, Gail Schofield, Paul A. Butcher

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    78 Citations (Scopus)
    33 Downloads (Pure)


    The use of drones to study marine animals shows promise for the examination of numerous aspects of their ecology, behaviour, health and movement patterns. However, the responses of some marine phyla to the presence of drones varies broadly, as do the general operational protocols used to study them. Inconsistent methodological approaches could lead to difficulties comparing studies and can call into question the repeatability of research. This review draws on current literature and researchers with a wealth of practical experience to outline the idiosyncrasies of studying various marine taxa with drones. We also outline current best practice for drone operation in marine environments based on the literature and our practical experience in the field. The protocols outlined herein will be of use to researchers interested in incorporating drones as a tool into their research on marine animals and will help form consistent approaches for drone-based studies in the future.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number64
    Pages (from-to)1-35
    Number of pages35
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Review
    • UAV
    • Drones
    • Marine
    • Methods
    • Approach
    • Animals
    • Research
    • Protocols
    • Behaviour


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