Drones, Beavers, and Sand Dollars

Watching drones, finding sand dollar beds, and seeing beavers were the highlights of last week. We spent the week in Tillamook, working in Netarts Bay. Drones were deployed to take aerial images of Netarts Bay ad the images taken will be used to create habitat maps of the area. The SEACOR team set out ground control points while instructors and students from Coastal Drone Academy took care of flying the drones. 

Here is how a typical day last week went:
The SEACOR team and the drone pilots went out on two boats at low tide. We set out ground control points while the pilot stations were set up. Unfortunately I was so busy watching everything else going on that I forgot to take a picture of the ground control points we were setting out! However, I did take pictures of the drone.

        -Drone on the landing pad, ready for take off!

Left side: Drone flying away from landing pad  Right side: Pilot station

        -Drone flying away on the left and partial view of the pilot station on the right      

Once the ground control points were set out and the drones deployed, we waited for further instructions. Usually it was to go gather up the points from areas which the drones had already flown over. Once the flights were done and the ground control points retrieved it was time to get back on the boat and leave. 

        -SEACOR team waiting on the boat in between setting ground control points

Netarts tide flats were different from the Coos Bay flats and one of the most interesting differences to was finding sand dollar beds. I have never come across a sand dollar bed before, just the occasional sand dollar on the beach.

        -Live sand dollars half buried in the sand

        -Top of a live sand dollar

In hopes of exploring the area during down time after work, I brought my bike and inflatable kayak. However, the week was spent covering a lot of ground and it was pretty exhausting. I did manage to go kayaking one afternoon and saw what looked like a miniature otter in the water, which turned out to be a beaver. Further upstream there was a sizable beaver habitat. This is the closest I have ever been to a beaver dam so it was pretty exciting and definitely a highlight of the week.

All in all, it was a good week with more new Oregon coast experiences!

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1 thought on “Drones, Beavers, and Sand Dollars

  1. Sounds like an awesome week! I’ve never seen sand dollar beds either, only dead ones on the beach – neat that you got to see those. Your drone work sounds familiar, most of the effort is always in deploying and recovering the control points. The drones themselves are so efficient, but the humans not so much :) What a cool experience to actually see a beaver (go OSU)! It’s pretty common to see evidence of their activities, but pretty rare to see the actual animal, fun!

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