Whales encounter persistent threats from humans, not the least of which are ship collisions — the World Sustainability Organization reportedly estimates that 18,000 –25,000 animals lose their lives yearly. However, there may be a technological way to reduce the rate of deaths.
Reuters also reports that the MERI Foundation and Chile’s government have deployed the first-ever smart buoy with the Blue Boat Initiative. This effort aims at safeguarding whales and tracking undersea ecosystems. The device, sailing in the Gulf of Corcovado about 684 miles from Chile, alerts vessels to nearby humpback, blue, right, and sei whales to avoid incidents.
The technology deploys AI-powered Listening and oceanographic sensors to the advanced Deep Ocean Environment (LIDO) software to detect a waterborne mammal’s type and location. It further checks the ocean’s health by monitoring oxygen, temperature levels, and other criteria. The extra data may also aid in studying climate change and its devastating impact on sea life.
The Blue Boat Initiative aims to install six or more buoys to safeguard whales in the gulf. In the long run, however, project members aspire to blanket the whales’ migratory route between the equator and Antarctica. This may lower collisions across the creatures’ habitat, not to mention better inform governmental decisions regarding conservation and the environment.
Technology may be as important for humans as for whales. On top of their roles in a delicately balanced ecosystem, whales help capture CO2 and, at the same time, redistribute heat via ocean currents. The more the animals are permitted to flourish, the more enabled the ocean gets at restricting global warming and its adverse effects.
References: Extreme Tech, Engadget