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Marine Protected Areas Benefit from Surveys by Amphibious UAVs/Drones

The use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in ecology and conservation is building momentum, with many research groups around the world exploring this novel way to collect images of animals for analysis. Most of this work is being carried out on land, but a few intrepid scientists are starting to venture out over the water, and my team from the Zoological Society of London are no exception. There is also a growing need for effective vessel surveillance out at sea. This article will showcase our latest expedition to the beautiful Turneffe Atoll in Belize and the UAV that makes all our pioneering science possible; an amphibious Aeromapper Talon built by Canadian company Aeromao. The Turneffe marine protected area (MPA) in Belize was delineated in 2012, but is difficult to manage, in part due to illegal fishing, its remoteness, and high running costs.

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