Some additional information about the drones used by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has come to light. The sUAS (Small Unmanned Aviation Systems) were deployed last week and successfully discovered the Japanese whaling fleet more than 1,000 miles north of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
The technology, not unlike the larger military drones used by American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, is considered a major advantage for the conservation org; which in the past has relied upon a mix of guesswork, experience, and outside assistance to locate the whalers.
“The Osprey was designed as an endurance UAS that’s capable flying for over an hour carrying custom payloads,” reports the site SUASNews. “It’s stable design makes it easy to fly and is actually capable of climbing in thermal lift with the motor turned off. The Osprey also flies well in higher wind conditions and has a very wide speed range.”
While the website lists the Osprey as having a flight time just over one hour, the Sea Shepherd press release says they acquired a “long-range drone” from Moran Shipping Agencies that likely is customized to go even further.
Either way, this “eye-in-the-sky” offers a new, high-tech advantage for an anti-whaling campaign that relies heavily on tracking and impediment. Japan may be insistent on continuing to waste millions of dollars on bloodying the seas for a dying industry, but time has a way of creating fools of those stuck in the past. 21st century technology is not an ally of the Japanese whaling fleet.