Using umnanned aerial vehicles for environmental monitoring and research at Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands (2016-2019)

The dataset is a collection of high resolution images and videos taken from drones at Sea Lion Island, starting in 2016. Semi-professional UAVs were used for 1) assessment of colonial marine birds (penguins, cormorants) nesting and breeding success; 2) monitoring of bird species that are particularly affected by human disturbance, and, therefore should not be surveyed directly (e.g., kelp gulls); 3) counts of southern sea lions (Otaria byronia), that breed in an area that is difficult to access; 4) study of the spatial structure of southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) harems; 5) study of killer whale (Orcinus orca) social behaviour and organization; 6) monitoring of landscape changes, in particular in the coastal and sand dune areas; 7) general mapping of the island; 8) assessment of management actions (e.g. tussac replanting). All together, the results were very positive, because the drone permitted to survey inaccessible areas, improve accuracy of colonial bird counts, and obtain landscape imagery on demand and with a limited effort. Further information is available on the research group website,

Data and Resources

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Additional Info

Field Value
Last Updated December 14, 2020, 09:54 (PST)
Created January 30, 2020, 05:23 (PST)
Region Falkland Islands
Language eng
Topic Category imagery base maps earth cover
Temporal Extent Start 2016-01-01
Temporal Extent End 2019-12-31
Dataset Reference Date 2019
Lineage Semi-professional drones (Phantom 3 and Mavic, DJI) were flown at Sea Lion Island from September to March, starting in 2016 over: 1) colonies of marine birds; 2) the main southern sea lions breeding colony; 3) outhern elephant seal harems; 4) killer whales, in particular during predation events. The main concern was the effect of UAV flights on wildlife. UAVs can produce a significant low frequency noise, can be attacked by territorial birds, and can adversely affect flying birds at large. All the monitored species showed null to scarce reaction to the UAV and territorial birds (e.g., caracaras) showed a very scarce interest in the flying UAV, much below expectation. The UAV proved very useful to reduce count disturbance in colonial marine birds, permitted us to count affectively the breeding southern sea lions, and produced a quantum leap in our understanding of orcas behaviour, in particular during predation events. With just a small number of flights it was possible to obtain a full imagery coverage of the Sea Lion Island coastline. In the future, the plan is to adopt mission planning software that will allow carrying out semi-automated surveys. A photo post-processing pipeline based on Agisoft Metascan and QGIS software is currently under development.
West Longitude -59.1519
South Latitude -52.4486
East Longitude -59.0364
North Latitude -52.4205
Spatial Reference System WGS84
Responsible Organisation Name Hidden (personal data protection)
Contact Mail Address Hidden (personal data protection)
Responsible Party Role Hidden (personal data protection)
Access Limitations Restricted, send data request to data owner
Use Constraints Restricted, but open subject to limitations and prior agreement with responsible organisation. Copyright must be cited
Resource Reference Copyright ESRG 1995-present - All Rights Reserved. Please contact ESRG before citing unpublished reports.
Data Format tif
Update Frequency annually
Accuracy Accuracy of positions collected by onboard GPS is 5 metres. To map landscape and habitat, control points are deployed on the ground and located using survey grade GPS receivers, to increase accuracy of imager georeferencing.
Resource Type Dataseries
Original Title Hidden (internal use only)
Metadata Date 2019-04-03
Metadata Point of Contact
Contact Consent Contact details hidden
Unique Resource ID FK-ESRG-384

Dataset extent

Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA.