Nursery pods, isolated mother and calf pairs, and isolated calves should also be left alone, as should animals that appear to be resting or avoiding aircraft and/or water vessels. A nursery pod is a large number of dolphins traveling together and strictly made up of only mother and calf pairs.
Nesting birds are known to use habitats adjacent to pinniped sites. Drones are known to cause nesting birds to flush, which is especially dangerous for birds that nest on cliffs where eggs can fall. Perform oblique surveying of marine mammals where cliff nesters are present. Flying overhead may cause a flushing event. Contact local seabird researchers to find out more about seasonal behavior of seabirds around pinniped sites.
Document all of your lessons learned and changes in protocols and share these lessons with other drone pilots. Join a Facebook group dedicated to pilots who fly responsibly. Make certain every drone flight ends with a log including your flight time, location, and wildlife encounters.
As in humans, cumulative impacts to animals lead to chronic stress and may eventually lead to sickness and death. There is a long line of people behind you thinking it’s only one selfie or one drone flight. Most likely you’ll never see the long line of people behind you impacting the wildlife.
You will be able to communicate to your clients how you’ve committed to greening your flights and reducing wildlife impacts. Imagine a client comparing you to another company when you have this as part of your value proposition!