Nfld. & Labrador·Video

Astonishing bird's-eye view of humpback whales swimming off Newfoundland coast

Ian Francis Walsh spent Monday filming the waters near Mobile, on Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula, when he spotted some large humpbacks breaching in the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

Drone captures spectacular imagery in the Atlantic Ocean off the Southern Shore

Drone captures humpback whale near Mobile, Newfoundland

Here and Now

5 years ago
Drone captures humpback whale near Mobile, Newfoundland 3:42

Whale watching is a popular summer activity on the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador, but one man used his camera drone to capture an incredible perspective in high definition this week.

Ian Francis Walsh spent Monday filming the waters near Mobile, just south of St. John's, when he spotted some large humpbacks breaching in the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

Joining the whales in the video are various seabirds, including the famous Newfoundland puffins, all frolicking around near the Newfoundland coast.

With his quadcopter and high-definition camera, Walsh captured a view of the mammal that is rarely seen by the human eye.

One shot captured by Walsh shows two humpbacks side by side near the coast of Mobile. (Ian Walsh)

Useful for research

Department of Fisheries and Oceans research scientist Jack Lawson told CBC that not only are such videos beautiful to watch, they can also be useful for studying the behaviour and health of whales like humpbacks.

DFO's Jack Lawson says aerial drone videos of whales can give scientists a unique perspective that can be useful for research. (CBC)

"Those videos are very useful," he said. "It's been great because we have gotten things like endangered white whales, and people have sent me killer whale photos.

"If anyone is giving me pictures of the underside of humpback whales or flukes, for example, there are catalogs for humpback whales that can help you identify individual humpbacks."

While maybe not quite as pretty, Lawson said some drone videos recently shared with them have been especially helpful because they show an aerial view of behaviours they don't usually get to see.

"One of the things that is happening around the world with drone research and whales is that by looking from above, when you know how high the drone is, you can make an estimate of how long and how wide the whale is," he said.

"I've also got a few drone videos of whales that are defecating, so we know they are feeding, and we can tell sometimes by the colour of the defecation if it's rich in fat and indicative of capelin feeding."

Check out Ian Walsh's amazing video in the player above.

With files from Carolyn Stokes