The uninhabited ‘islet’ of Ka’ula lies almost 280 km west of Honolulu and is home to bird species including laysan albatross, great frigatebirds, sooty terns and three different species of boobies – brown, masked and red-footed.
During our first survey in 2013 our high resolution images also revealed eleven Hawaiian monk seals, one of the rarest seal species in the world with only about 1,400 remaining in the wild according the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
Flying the survey takes about one day and each year around 2,000 ultra-high resolution images are captured of the island using our state-of-the-art multi-camera system mounted on a survey aircraft.
With the survey successfully completed a huge amount of data needs to be downloaded, processed and analysed by our team of experts.
The important work of identifying and recording the species and location of each individual bird captured in the imagery can then begin, backed by a detailed quality control process.
The project was the first to be delivered by APEM in co-operation with US consultancy Normandeau and the two companies have been working closely together ever since, including on the world’s largest and most detailed digital aerial surveys of offshore wildlife, off the coast of New York.
A spokesman for the US Navy said: “The ultra-high resolution imagery used by APEM has allowed us to gain a better understanding of both the abundance and composition of the seabird species present on Ka’ula. We are very pleased with the results.”
Dr Mark Rehfisch, head of APEM’s ornithology team, said: “The surveys have always gone well and our specialist image analysts led by Simon Warford enjoy the opportunity to identify the exciting seabirds and marine mammals of Hawaii.”