By Nina Wu
Capt. Dave Anderson of Dana Point, Calif., captured this beautiful footage of a mother and baby Hawaiian humpback whale off the waters of Maui during a recent trip in February. Stay tuned to the second half of this five-minute video, which starts with a dolphin stampede in Dana Point.
He captured the footage by drone – or quadcopter — during a vacation on Maui. The mother and baby approached his boat off Maui, says Capt. Dave, and he made sure to maintain a respectful distance while capturing the footage.
"Putting it together the way I did will, I hope, raise awareness of these animals in a way that hasn't been done before," said Anderson, owner of Capt. Dave's Dolphins & Whale Watching Safari.
Anderson, who produced the documentary "Wild Dolphins & Whales of Southern California," also says it shows the great potential drones can have for wildlife filmmakers. He's excited about the possibilities the new technology can offer.
"I have not been this excited about a new technology since we built our underwater viewing pods on our whale watching boat," he said.
Three days after getting a quadcopter, Anderson said he was filming the dolphin stampede off Dana Point, Calif. He also captured some beautiful footage of a gray whale, but had a mishap in which he lost the quadcopter after it nicked an antennae and dropped in the water. Now he makes sure to put a flotation device on his quad.
There is also footage of three gray whales migrating down the coast off San Clemente, Calif.
On Maui, he said he parked his boat a distance from the mother and calf to watch them, spending pretty about a half day out there. A male escort whale was also out there, watching after the pair. He deployed his quadcopter (a DJI Phantom 2 with a small GoPro) four times — at 15-minute intervals each.
From the surface, it looked as if the mother was diving down and leaving her calf behind. From the drone, Anderson saw that the mother whale was just resting right under the surface of the water, with the calf hovering nearby.
"They were just interacting with each other in such an intimate way," he said. "I think the most beautiful part of that film is what I shot in Hawaii."
Anderson, a whale watch captain with nearly 20 years of experience, also warns others to only attempt filming by drone if familiar with whale behavior and laws. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association is currently reviewing drones and their use around whales.
Learn more at dolphinsafari.com.