Fin whales — the second-largest whale species and also one of the most elusive — are longer than the average school bus.
Given their size and deep-diving behavior, encountering one of these behemoths in the wild is quite the treat for any scientist, tourist or kayaker. But one California-based whale watching company, Dana Wharf Whale Watching, is adding an entirely new dimension to their tour: drones. The Dana Wharf Copter Cam captured this breathtaking aerial footage of a fin whale gliding through the Pacific Ocean, and it gives an entirely new perspective on what being larger than a school bus really means.
Because fin whales are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and are also protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, many are questioning whether drones pose a risk to whales. NOAA requires that boats to stay 100 yards from whales, and that airplanes and helicopters stay at least 1,000 feet above whales, but there it’s unclear as to whether these restrictions apply to drones, according to the International Business Times. The National Marine Fisheries Service will be discussing drone use around marine mammals in upcoming meetings, according to GrindTV.
Fin whales are the second-largest whale species and the most common ones to be hit by vessels, according to NOAA. They inhabit all of the world’s oceans in deep, offshore areas and live for 80 to 90 years.