Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (2.05 MB)

Aerial surveys: effects of aircraft speed and environmental factors on marine megafauna

Download (2.05 MB)
posted on 2022-03-28, 02:03 authored by Sally Dupont
Aerial surveys are commonly used to monitor animal population and behaviour in both terrestrial and marine settings. Using aerial surveys and a density surface model (DSM) I investigated the impact of environmental factors on marine megafauna. The underestimation associated with marine aerial surveys are caused by two factors: availability and perception biases. Both of these can potentially be resolved by reducing aircraft speed. In this thesis I investigated whether observers sighted a greater number of marine animals when the aerial platform (in this case helicopters) travelled at 80 knots compared to 100 knots. No significant difference in detection of dolphins, fish schools or sharks was found, suggesting that observer training and experience has a greater impact than speed on the number and type of animals seen. Given the significant increment in cost of both observer time and helicopter charter incurred from using a 20% slower speed, without an increase in data quality, retention of the 100 knot survey speed is recommended. No significant relationship was found between dolphin and fish school counts and either sea surface temperature (SST) or chlorophyll-a (Chl-a). This suggests the involvement of other factors in the distribution and habitat selection of marine animal population.


Table of Contents

1. Aerial surveys: the effect of aircraft speed on marine megafauna counts -- 2. Factors influencing the nearshore distribution of sharks, fish & dolphins in NSW waters -- General thesis conclusion -- References -- Appendix.


Bibliography: leaves 49-52 Thesis by publication.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Department of Biological Sciences

Department, Centre or School

Department of Biological Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Rob Harcourt


Copyright Sally Dupont 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




Tien Shan


1 online resource (63 leaves) maps

Former Identifiers