Aerial Surveillance over the Palau marine sanctuary was initially proposed in 2013. A series of tests were conducted with various technologies. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles were the first. The high initial cost ruled them out together with unfavorable vessel detection ability.
The Republic of Palau next tested the Sea Dragon system. A military grade combination of radar and gyro stabilized cameras. A twin engine Cessna variant is fitted with the surveillance equipment and used as a complete package with a pilot and trained observer.
During the initial trial, Sea Dragon scored a huge success by finding and documenting fishing vessels transshipping. This is illegal in Palau. It demonstrated the need to continue patrols far off-shore.
The system however had issues. It wasn’t a practical solution for long term surveillance despite it’s initial success. It has however found use in other parts of FSM.
A simple, cheap and reliable solution had to be found.
This is where Pacific Mission Aviation stepped into the ring. Part of their work is providing medevac solutions to the outer atolls of Yap and FSM. For this they need an aircraft with a greater range than a standard single engined Cessna. A twin engine Beechcraft modified Queen Air was chosen due to it’s reliability and long range of over 1000 Nautical miles.
The below film documents actual missions that took place during November of 2017.
In addition you can also check out an earlier behind the scenes post written during the development of this project .
Please check out the website for Pacific Mission Aviation here
The future of surveillance
The conclusion from all these tests is that simplicity is fundamental.
However, as we continuously approach our time horizon, developments occur. I’m talking about the recent U.S plan to install military radar stations in a variety of locations in Palau. One of these installations will be in the SW islands. They aim to give the U.S a better idea about military ship movements in the area. The US and Palau also propose to use this to locate and identify fishing vessels. With this level of tech in place it will probably become impossible to enter Palau’s EEZ undetected. We certainly have an interesting few years ahead of us.
Keep checking back as we continue to document the surveillance efforts over the National Marine Sanctuary.
Lightning Strikes was called upon to provide location advice and be second camera for a cinematic documentary being shot in Palau. The best RED 6K cameras were used for this large budget shoot in Palau.
To provide amazing footage of Mantas we went up north to film them aggregating in the northern channels. This is part of their annual migration that occurs at this time of year.
Make it a RED camera Palau
We have been using a RED Epic Dragon with the Arri 8mm prime lens on front for the widest, closest images possible and we were not disappointed.
Late in the day we had Manta barrel feeding in shallow water surrounded by huge schools of fish that reacted in explosive and dramatic fashion as the mantas looped through them.
This footage may well end up in the finish documentary or could find it’s way into other productions. Either way, the 6K sensor from the RED provides incredible Raw footage from this day and many others we have been filming throughout this shoot.
Even in Palau Plastic Pollution is becoming a serious problem. Whilst filming on location in one of Palau’s most beautiful locations of Kayangel the other day it was horribly apparent what a enormous issue it is. I put together this short film on what we found there.
We are killing our environment
Human activities are impacting everywhere on the small fragile planet, from the deepest oceans to the upper atmosphere. By far the biggest cause is the sheer number of people. Population control must be tackled immediately if we are to have any hope of bringing other environmental problems to acceptable or sustainable levels.
Our species consumes so many natural resources and creates so much pollution, it is literally killing it’s own environment. Just like anything that lives beyond it’s environments ability to support it, we will die off as the environment we need to survive fails.
Our oceans are filling with plastic. So many millions of single use bottles. How many can you see in the above image alone?
Watch the film above and listen to the admittedly windy dialog, but the message here is that we should be aiming to cut down on those single use plastic containers. Bottled water or drinks are one of the biggest contributors. Please think about purchasing reusable bottles and taking them with you. If you think that the above photo is just a couple of square meters of one beach the unbelievable scale of this problem might begin to dawn on you. Please make the effort to cut down on your plastic use. This issue is not going away.
A friend of mine recently wrote a blog post on her efforts to cut down on plastic usage, read it here.
Check out this link for positive thinking companies in Indo who specialize on lowering their impact on the World.
As natural events go, very little compares to fish spawning aggregations and it’s the time of year again to be diving Peleliu. Both the Sailfin Snapper (Symphorichthys spilurus) and Red Snapper (Lutjanus bohar) are starting to aggregate along the east reefs of Yellow Wall and Peleliu Express to the corner.
For those intrepid divers, early morning dives just before the full moon will find them spawning in their thousands. Also making an appearance are the predators such as Bull Sharks and Oceanic Black Tips.
How to find the aggregations
I joined Dari Divers for this trip as they know exactly where and when to jump in, even once on the reef they can interpret the fishes behavior and know how to approach them. Check out the edited short film from this year:
Check out last years showreel with footage from the Red Snapper spawning dives here.
Watch this space for updates as we return to document this impressive natural event.
We are available for Underwater filming, underwater photography, underwater camera rental, aerial filming, drone pilot hire, Location scouting, fixer work, Film production in Palau, permits, accommodation in Palau, dive boat charters, aircraft charters, stock footage or just advice on where to dive.
I get a lot of e-mails asking me how to become a successful underwater cameraman, or how I’ve got to where I am as a media producer. So I thought I’d put together a short blog to help all those aspiring shooters.
There is no one course or definite route. The more successful underwater camera operators you meet the more varied the stories you’ll get. For the sake of this, here are some recurring similarities.
Most of it may seem like common sense but hopefully my contribution offers you some insight.
If any readers have ideas that they can offer, things that I haven’t encountered or mentioned it would be great to hear from you. Please leave a comment at the bottom to help every aspiring shooter out there.