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Capt. Dave Anderson Uses Drone to Capture Dolphin Migration

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Captain Dave Anderson, of Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari in Dana Point, California, recently filmed a spectacular video of a huge megapod of dolphins and three gray whales migrating down the coast off San Clemente. In the video footage of “Drones Over Dolphin Stampede and Whales off Dana Point and Maui,” there are even heartwarming close-ups of a newborn humpback whale calf snuggling with its mother as an escort whale stands guard nearby in Maui.

Anderson says that this “is the most beautiful and compelling five-minute video I have ever put together. I learned so much about these whales and dolphins from this drone footage that it feels like I have entered a new dimension! I have not been this excited about a new technology since we built our underwater viewing pods on our whale watching boat. Drones are going to change how we view the animal world.”

Anderson captured the dolphins and whales on film with the help from a camera-equipped drone. He was able to launch and catch the quadcopter by standing in a small inflatable boat. He actually lost one drone in January on takeoff when it nicked his small VHF radio antenna on the 14-foot rigid inflatable he was filming from and went into the water. Alone, six miles offshore, Anderson plunged into the icy waters off Dana Point to retrieve the footage he had taken earlier that morning.

“I had my hat and glasses on, I was fully clothed with long-johns on to keep warm and my cell phone and wallet in my pocket. It was a stupid move, but the copter started sinking so fast it was my only hope to get the amazing footage I had just shot,” said Anderson. “I get so nervous every flight over the water now, after the accident, my hands start shaking. My wife says no more drones if I lose this one. But she said that before I lost the other one. Now that she’s seen what it can do, I think she’s just as hooked as I am.”

“This technology, that offers such steady footage from the air for such a low price and is so easy to fly, is new. This was a ten or twenty thousand dollar copter a few years ago and flying those took a great deal of skill. I can’t wait to see what footage this year will bring with this drone, getting a different perspective on the amazing sightings we already have off Dana Point,” said Anderson. “There is debate in many states right now about making use of these drones illegal. People are justifiably concerned about invasion of privacy. But it would be a shame to have this new window into a whale’s world taken away.”

According to Dolphin Safari, Southern California has the greatest density of dolphins in the world. It has pods up to 10,000 strong “stretched out for miles like the wildebeests of Africa.” There are over 400,000 common dolphin alone, and it is also home to the largest concentration of blue whales on earth

Unfortunately, thousands of dolphins and whales along the California coastline are being killed as a result of human interference – especially with the use of fishing nets. Getting ensnared in fishing gear is the leading cause of death for both species, as are “vessel strikes” where the boats accidentally crash into the mammals. Anderson works towards educating the public about the massive whale and dolphin population that swim in this area and started Orange County’s first whale disentanglement group in 2008.

In a guest appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres‘ television sitcom, “The Ellen Show,” Anderson discusses the tragedies that are befalling these magnificent, and social creatures, from the use of fishing nets. Every year at minimum, 308 thousand dolphins and whales are killed from these nets.

Anderson explains that in the United States fishermen are allowed to use mile long gill nets, but in other parts of the world, thirty miles of net is permitted. Many other fish and marine life are also being caught in the nets – such as sea lions, crabs, sharks, squid eggs, and a whole ecosystem of sea birds, and sea turtles, said Anderson. At the rate that marine life is being killed, the ocean will be empty in fifty years.

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