Drones are computer controlled air vehicles that can be fitted with various tools for application in a variety of settings. The great stability, control, maneuverability and versatility of these small vehicles has led to explosive growth in their popularity over the past few years with a variety of uses. From flying in your mom’s backyard to delivering a host of impulsive buys from your Amazon.com shopping cart, the future of seeing drones as in the sky as much as one sees clouds is fast approaching. And while you stand at your doorstep waiting for a tiny UAV to deliver your vintage avocado masher, we will be using the drone as a means of saving an endangered species- the James Spinymussel.
Name: James Spinymussel
Date of Endangerment: 1988
Habitat: The James Spinymussel is a chill little mussel dude, going with the flow residing in free-flowing streams and likes to settle in fine sediment substrates- extra fine- with various depths and flow rates in the stream.
Occupation: The James Spinymussel is the Britta filter of nature. They are filter feeders so they are important to stream health and eat all the plankton in the water. Fish don’t want to swim in unfiltered water just as much as you don’t want to drink tap water. Gross.
Attributes: Great wingman. During spawning, the male mussels release sperm into the water column, which are taken into the female through the gills. The resulting larvae, known as glochidia, are released from the female into the water column and must be attached to the host fish to survive the rest of maturation. And let me tell ya, you gotta have some good looking glochidia to be picked up by a host fish, so if your looking for any fish in your life, the Spinymussels got you.
3. Moving Sale:
The Stream Team has had minimal success in finding a large population of James Spinymussel in our field site at Swift Run in the Shenandoah region. Many invasive neighbors have moved into the community including the Asian clam, and the Spinnymussel’s are getting sick of other clams crashing their backyard parties. So they are planning to pack up (with the help of conservation biologists) and be trans-located to place with less rowdy neighbors and a more stable sediment. While it is against the law to move endangered species, a translocation proposal can be made if other streams have minimal risk and offer an ideal environment to aid in repopulation.
4. Agisoft Realty:
Before a translocation plan can be accepted, an ideal habitat for the Spinymussel must be identified. We have enlisted the help of the best real estate company in the Virginia- Agisoft. Agisoft PhotoScan is an image processing software that generates 3D spatial data by piecing together individual images and utilizing GPS coordinate information. By using aerial photography captured by our drone, we will have the images necessary to map a field site of the river. By mapping the site over time, we hope to identify portions of the river less susceptible to erosion and sediment movement that can provide a suitable habitat for the mussels.
5. 3D Printing:
As the final exhibit for our project draws nearer, many kind supporters have encouraged us to “break a leg.” Although we do not plan on breaking any legs, we have the means to make new legs if that were to occur- landing legs for the drone I mean. To help keep project costs low, we have decided to make many of the drone attachments needed including landing legs, camera holder, and gimbal using a 3D printer. 3D printing utilizes an additive process for production, which is performed by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is formed.