The oyster reefs dotting North Carolina’s outer banks provide tasty snacks for humans. But they are also key players in the coastal ecosystem, filtering out pollutants, providing homes for fish and stabilizing shorelines. Duke scientists are using drones to monitor the health of oyster reefs in Bird Shoal, a part of the Rachel Carson National Estuarine Research Reserve in Beaufort, NC. In this photo, researchers wade through the salty marshes of the shoal to plant targets that help orient drones flying overhead. Drone mapping software is able lock onto these targets, creating more precise maps of the oyster reefs below. Photo Credit: Duke Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Lab.