Do you really know your shoreline property bluff?

Would you answer "yes" to any of these questions?

  1. Is your home near the top of a bluff? Are you concerned?

  2. Is your home at the bottom of a bluff? Are you concerned?

  3. Is your home near a bluff that you are concerned about?

  4. Do you intend to sell a Whidbey Island property with beautiful views?

  5. Do you want to buy a Whidbey Island property with beautiful views?

Now is a good time to get visual documentation and professional advice. Aerial Whidbey (AW) offers the safest, most informative and least expensive way to have a record of a bluff's:

- mix of healthy, soil-holding vegetation,

- vegetation that is dead, dying or does not hold soil well (blackberry plants),

- areas of bare earth that appear to be stable,

- areas of bare earth that indicate a slump or slide,

- stream channels or winter storm cuts,

- areas where there is water seepage,

- geological features within and near the boundaries of the property.


Using AW's high-quality, detailed videos and snapshots, a professional can develop a plan to mitigate your concerns about the bluff.


Also, an AW drone can be programmed to repeat a flight path and camera angles, making it easier to see how a bluff is changing from season to season, year to year. A prepared homeowner can use those aerial videos and snapshots to reduce or remove concerns of potential buyers.

As requested, an AW drone operator can directly guide a drone's camera to focus on specific areas of concern on the bluff, and record the GPS locations of those areas for professional evaluation. 

The example video below shows where blackberry plants have been cleared by hand from a vertical swath of the bluff. Blackberry plants are not effective at erosion control when compared to other plants. The plants to the left of the bare area are St. John's wort. The plants on the right of the bare area are blackberry plants on an adjacent property. An overall erosion control strategy is being implemented on the homeowner's property.

You can get significant information from a video like the one above. However you can get even more information from videos taken by AW's special infrared camera that reveals dead or dying vegetation among the healthy vegetation, and exposes areas of bare earth, including areas where recent land slips, slumps or slides have occurred. Shades of lavender in the image below indicate healthy vegetation. Click here for more about what you can learn from infrared videos and snapshots.

You may also want to have a vertical, horizontal or oblique scan of your bluff to develop a mosaic image that serves as a foundation for documenting at-risk areas and other observations. Mosaic images are formed from hundreds of snapshots of the bluff, taken by a programmed drone as it flies a path controlled by the drone's autopilot. A mosaic image can be aligned to measured points on the ground for stable referencing. And you will have all of those detailed snapshots for later reference.

Recommended:  See the presentations and other resources that were provided during the University of Washington Botanic Gardens' seminar Landscapes on the Edge, 22 September 2016. For example: Landscapes on the Edge are Different, by Elliott Menashe, Greenbelt Consulting,


Now that you have detailed aerial imagery, arrange to meet with a professional to formulate a strategy for stormwater and erosion control, mitigation and slope stabilization. 

Once you have a strategy and are ready to act, Aerial Whidbey can:

  • Re-use one or more drone flight programs to revisit some or all of the previously scanned areas to confirm where work is needed.

  • Perform a vertical scan of the bluff with ground control points, to develop a mosaic image/map with GNSS satellite location coordinates that can guide work crews directly to the correct locations. All Aerial Whidbey drones use GNSS receivers which lock to GPS, GLONASS and other satellite signals for high airspace and groundspace accuracy.

  • Directly guide a drone to specific areas of the bluff to record more detailed information prior to starting work, or to confirm that work has been completed as planned.

  • Zoom in to any area of concern while you and/or a shoreline landscape or restoration professional watches what the camera is recording. 

More information about what a drone video can reveal about a bluff.


More information about when you may be too close to the edge of a bluff.

Why wait?  Useful information can be obtained in any season, weather permitting.