La Rochelle, France (7 jours/7)

By plane

Visual monitoring of the marine megafauna

The technique of aerial tracking consists of counting marine mammals and birds from the air by flying at low altitude in a high-winged aircraft equipped with bubble windows.

In France, the census of the marine megafauna by aircraft had its beginnings during the ATLANCET survey in the summer of 2002 in the Bay of Biscay.

In 2011/2012, the SAMM (Aerial Monitoring of Marine Megafauna) surveys were deployed in all the waters of mainland France. In the French overseas territories, the REMMOA programme was lauched in 2008.

SAMMREMMOAMethodologic guide

And in response to the needs of managers of Marine Protected Areas, for example, surveys are carried out on a smaller scale: the SPEE survey (Monitoring the marine megafauna off the Charentais PErtuis, the Gironde Estuary and Rochebonne by aerial observation) or the MAMO campaign (Study of marine megafauna in the Eastern Channel, particularly in the Picardy Estuaries and Opal Coast Marine Park).

Other aerial surveys have also been carried out: DunkRisk-LEDKOA, CAPECET



How does it work?

The protocol is based on the implementation of a sampling plan consisting of line transects, preferably zig-zag transects to optimise the prospecting effort. The observation platform is composed of two observers and a navigator who ensures live data entry, embarked on board a high-wing aircraft equipped with bubble windows.

The method used by this protocol is called line transect distance sampling and makes it possible to produce relative densities by correcting biases linked to the observation conditions (but potentially linked to biases in detection by the observer or the availability of the animal on the surface). The platform can be doubled by two additional observers, thus correcting some of these biases and refining the abundance estimates produced.