Biota and Environment of Natural Areas

Katin I.O., Nesterenko V.A.

Remote account of spotted seals on haulout sites of Rimsky-Korsakov Archipelago (Peter the Great Bay) using drones

Year: 2021, Number: 1, Pages: 72-81

In April 2020, the number of spotted seal Phoca largha was recorded for the first time using unmanned aerial vehicles in Peter the Great Bay during the pre-migration period, when almost the entire largha population of the south of the Sea of Japan is concentrated on the haulout sites of the Rimsky-Korsakov archipelago. We used drones Phantom 4 pro v.2.0 and Mavic 2 pro. The total number of animals was 2700 individuals, of which 91.3 % were concentrated at nine key haulout sites used to form molting ashore associations. The data obtained correspond to the indicators of the characteristic level abundance previously derived for each haulout site, but when analyzing the population dynamics, they allow one to operate not with estimated data, but with exact parameters of absolute abundance. Seal count by drones is part of the largha remote monitoring program being introduced in the Far Eastern Marine Reserve and will be expanded to all phases of the population cycle of this species.

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