NEAR MALIBU ( — New laws are limiting where drones can fly but conservationists want them to be flying above the beach in order to document the coastline.

Brennon Edwards made his way to the beach Wednesday, but instead of soaking in the rays, he was soaking in the views with his drone.

That’s because he’s part of The Nature Conservancy’s new program called “Phones and Drones.”

“I met someone at an event and we got into the nerdy subject talking about drones and they found out I flew drones,” said Edwards.

The organization is asking citizen scientists to send in pictures or video of California’s coastline during this El Nino winter.

Edwards uses an app to fly his drone in a pre-programmed route along the coast.

“So what it did, it goes around and it takes pictures that it can stitch together on the drone-to-play website in order to be able to say, ‘This is exactly what the coastline looks like right now,’ ” he said.

The shared photos will help scientists predict sea level rise, flooding, and erosion damage.

The aerial photography is giving scientists much more information about the changing coastline versus taking a picture from the ground.

“It’s going to help us document changes along the coast for this El Niño as well as future storms,” said Lily Verdone of The Nature Conservancy.

And for Edwards, volunteering his time is allowing him to blend his two passions together.

“My original career choice was to be a marine biologist which didn’t quite work out the way I wanted and now I get to be a scientist and a tech nerd at the same time,” he said.

The Nature Conservancy is asking anyone participating in the program to make sure their drone is registered, to check with local authorities before flying, and most of all: be safe.

“Fly within the areas where you’re supposed to fly in, keep it under 400 feet, and only fly during the day,” said Edwards.

For more information about the “Phones and Drones” program, click here.


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