Honours project title: Do drones annoy dolphins? The effect of drones on coastal dolphin behaviour
Principal supervisor: Prof Brendan Kelaher
Co-supervisor: A/Prof Paul Butcher
Research summary: I am determining the potential impact of drones on coastal dolphin behaviour (Tursiops truncatus and Tursiops aduncus), and assessing the uses of drones as a surveying technique for coastal dolphin behaviour and ecology. The current NSW legislation requires drone users to fly no lower than 100 m above cetaceans, however potential impacts of drones on cetaceans have not been studied. This research will determine if drones cause any impact on dolphins, and if so quantify a height at which drones can be flown over coastal dolphins with no disturbance. Legislation can then be adjusted to better reflect disturbance levels. This knowledge will be useful for future studies of marine animals using drones, and will hopefully lead to better compliance by recreational users.
Awards: Ralph Barclay Braun Memorial Scholarship