Researchers using drones to study Hawaii wildlife - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Researchers using drones to study Hawaii wildlife

Hawaiian monk seal Hawaiian monk seal

By AUDREY McAVOY
Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Scientists are using drones to survey endangered Hawaiian monk seals and other wildlife in Hawaii.

Researchers will be flying a NASA Ikhana plane similar to the Air Force's Predator drone to the remote atolls of Nihoa, Necker and French Frigate Shoals next week.

These atolls are all within the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Todd Jacobs said Tuesday the unmanned aircraft will survey sea turtles, sea birds in addition to seals. It will also search for marine debris and monitor vessel traffic.

He says the Ikhana may conduct surveys around Niihau island if there's an opportunity.

The plane has previously been used to map wildfires on the U.S. mainland.

Scientists last month used a smaller drone to survey wildlife in the marine monument.

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