Drone footage offers scientists new perspective in understanding killer whale behavior

SEATTLE - Drone technology is now offering scientists a new perspective on killer whale behavior and help endangered southern residents.

Scientists at the University of British Columbia are using aerial drones to get a rare glimpse at the whale's eating habits while underwater.

The footage will help them determine if endangered southern residents are getting enough Chinook salmon to meet nutritional needs.

Researchers say comparing northern residents to southern residents is an important step to understanding foraging habits.

“We’re studying northern residents, that unlike southern, appear to be healthy, generally better body condition, a larger population size,” researcher Sarah Fortune explained. “And we're looking at their feeding behavior and the prey that they have available in habitats, and we're comparing that to the smaller population of southern residents that show poor body condition.”

This is the first time researchers are using drones to record behavior and prey fields at the same time.