Digital aerial seabird and cetacean surveys off the east coast of Scotland

This report provides eight digital aerial surveys of seabirds and marine mammals across the seas east of Scotland between February 2020-January 2021, a task driven by the need of updating existing data. The main difference was seen in seabird distribution, with little change to cetacean abundance.

Executive summary

APEM were commissioned by the Scottish Government to provide digital aerial surveys of the East Coast of Scotland, from February 2020 until January 2021. The main objective of the work was to deliver survey data and report on the outcome of the digital aerial surveys in regard to seabirds and cetaceans within the defined target area. This is the final report describing the methodology and results of the survey programme.

APEM's camera system was fitted into a twin-engine aircraft the aerial digital surveys captured images along ten transects spaced in a sawtooth pattern to achieve full coverage across the East Coast targeted area (hereafter known as Survey Area).

Data collected approximately two-centimetre (cm) ground sample distance (GSD) digital still images. The transect swathe was 960 meters (m), images were collected continuously (abutting digital still imagery) along the ten transects. At least 194 kilometres squared (km2) of sea surface area was collected, representing 1.5% coverage of the wider survey area.

Digital aerial surveys of the East Coast of Scotland, from February 2020 until January 2021.
Survey Total Raw count
Birds Mammals Other marine megafauna
Survey 1 10,282 96 0
Survey 2 9,606 22 0
Survey 3 18,141 517 1
Survey 4 14,284 660 0
Survey 5 64,034 58 1
Survey 6 19,551 84 1
Survey 7 14,525 20 0
Survey 8 12,901 59 0



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