On a recent visit to see the elephant seals near San Simeon, California I was able to witness a scene both disturbing and, unfortunately, all too common these days. While observing the seals from the designated viewing area on the path above the beach I noticed a man and his son approaching, carrying a drone. My first thought was "you can't be serious". The fence along the observation path is plastered with numerous signs pointing out that the elephant seals are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act which explicitly prohibits approaching or disturbing the animals in any way.
One would have to be either completely oblivious or willfully blind not to notice.
I thought surely the guy would realize that what he was planning to do was a no-go and proceed no further.
But no! As expected he placed his drone on the ground and proceeded with his pre-flight preparations, then launched his drone skyward, proceeding to fly down the length of the beach at an altitude of about 10 meters before once again flying the length of the beach in the opposite direction, back to where he was. He then flew his drone towards the water and dropped it lower to hover just above a pair of seals who started raising their heads to inspect the thing buzzing just over them. So much for any pretense that this activity wasn't disturbing the animals.
Fortunately that morning a group of volunteer interpreters were on sight and one of them stepped forward to confront the 'pilot' and ask him to take back his toy, which he promptly did.
If he had not I'm sure he would have been reported. There was a phone number on the signs that people could use to report incidents like this. The whole scene was just another example of an attitude that seems to have developed around the ever increasing number of gadgets populating peoples lives, that being 'if something can be done, then it should be done', no matter the consequences, legal or otherwise.
It's the same thing with the whole "selfie" phenomenon where lately it seems like not a week goes by where someone is injured or killed going out of bounds to get a snapshot of themselves doing something unwise.
Many people make the claim that, these days, everyone is a photographer. Perhaps that's not really the case. Perhaps the real photographers are the ones who would never engage in such behavior to get an image, an often mediocre one at that.