Innovating Endangered Australian Sea Lion Counts in the Great Australian Bight

Australian Sea Lions are classed as endangered after nearly being hunted to extinction in the early 1800s. They are only found in colonies in WA and SA, including seeking out a tough existence at the base of the 100-meter-high Bunda Cliffs along the Great Australian Bight.

South Australian Marine Parks approached GUS to seek more innovative ways of monitoring the remote sea lions colonies using drone technology, seeking to provide a safer and more comprehensive overview of the colonies than that which the previous method, peering over the cliff edge with a pair of binoculars provided.

This work has resulted in what has been described as a breakthrough in sea lion management and could help preserve the species. The work has immediately revealed greater numbers than were counted previously (up to 283 percent) and in the future, will help track population changes. This is not due to a population recovery, but being able to visually assess the entire colonies for the first time.

GUS’s work with Marine Parks South Australia continues, seeking to bring recent advances in image analysis techniques and artificial intelligence (machine-learning) to provide further efficiencies and advantages to fauna management. GUS are also working with Marine Parks to explore other areas where drone technologies could be cost-effectively applied.

The 100m high Nullarbor cliffs are a challenging environment for sea lions and drones!

The 100m high Nullarbor cliffs are a challenging environment for sea lions and drones!

Surveying Earthquake Damage with LiDAR in Papua New Guinea

Working for a major oil and gas company, GUS completed an airborne laser scanning (LiDAR) survey over sections of road which support a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

The survey was completed in extremely challenging conditions: high altitude, extreme relief, dense tall vegetation and variable weather conditions.

ALS Long Section

ALS Long Section

Looking down the access road/right-of-way

Looking down the access road/right-of-way

RGB colored point cloud

RGB colored point cloud

Derived data products

Derived data products

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Assessing the application of drone technology to help communities in remote Papua New Guinea

GUS was engaged by World Vision, a World-leading humanitarian aid, development and advocacy organisation to assess the feasibility of utilizing small drones to assist its operations.

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GUS conducted wide-ranging consultation with World Vision staff in Port Moresby, Madang, as well as one of their remotest project sites in the Middle Ramu region of PNG.

GUS found clear benefits in the short-term to use of the technology to support key areas in World Visions programming, as well as in the future once an internal framework and capability to support the planned activities is well established.

GUS worked with CASA PNG and PNG Airservices to conduct a number of proof of concept exercises.


GUS works with Murdoch University to Study Whales with Drones

Another great collaborative project leveraging GUS' drone expertise and Murdoch Unversity's quest for ground-breaking marine research. It was fantastic to work with the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit (MUCRU) to develop an innovative approach to measuring the body condition of whales.

This ground breaking research recieved global news coverage including this article published in the Australian and the video of a white whale calf in the video link below.

Dr Fredrick Christian has also gone on to publish a study on the noise impact of drones on whales, with findings suggesting that the underwater noise effect from drones is small, even for animals close to the water surface.