Singing drone fails to lure orca back to sea

An attempt to use a singing drone to lure a lost orca in the River Seine in Paris, France, back out to sea failed last weekend. The rescue crew used a drone that broadcast a whale song to no avail. The animal had become too weakened, so marine biologists decided to put the orca to sleep. The unique drone rescue method was used because it was feared that an attempt by boat had no chance of success in any case.

Singing drone sings whale song

The four-meter-long marine mammal was first sighted two weeks ago in the Seine halfway between Le Havre and Rouen, about 60 km from the ocean. It involved a young sword whale that may have lost its group. According to marine biologists, the animal was very weak and swam aimlessly in the freshwater, where it could not find enough food to survive for long. But a rescue attempt by boat would probably cause too much stress for the animal.

Finally, rescuers and experts decided last Friday to lure the animal back to sea by means of a ‘singing drone’. A drone equipped with a loudspeaker that played whale songs was steered towards the orca from a few hundred meters away, hoping the animal would recognize the sound and swim after it. It was the first time that this rescue method was used worldwide.

Singing Drone Fails To Lure Orca Back To Sea
A Drone is outfitted with a loudspeaker so that it can be used as a singing drone to help rescue whales.

Drone rescue attempt failed

On Sunday evening, the special rescue attempt was finally called off. Experts concluded that the animal had already become too weakened and, moreover, did not respond well to the singing from the air: the orca’s cries sounded more stressed than relieved. In addition, necrosis (death of tissue) was noted. It was then decided to euthanize the animal, the prefecture of Seine-Maritime reports on Twitter.

Orcas are not very common in . Most orcas are seen in the waters around , Scotland, and . Orcas are also occasionally found in the sea area south of near the Strait of Gibraltar.

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Singing Drone Fails To Lure Orca Back To Sea 1

This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

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Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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