Robotic buoys track whales in real time

Researchers have created technology that uses buoys and underwater gliders to record whale sounds almost

in real time. Registrar robots make it possible to track the location of rare northern right whales with high accuracy.

Mark Baumgartner, marine ecologist at the labWoods Hole says in an interview with The Associated Press that acoustic recorders have been tracking whale sounds for decades, but new technology is doing it in real time. The devices created by the scientific institute send data every couple of hours, and not every few months.

Buoy photo. Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Scientists post their findings onpublic site. Such data allows ship owners to adjust traffic routes, and also help regional authorities make decisions. For example, to introduce a mode of slow movement (right whale slow zones), which instructs all ships in the coverage area to slow down to 10 knots (18.5 km/h) or less.

The researchers note that there are less than340 northern right whales. Collision with ships poses a serious threat to them. Environmentalists hope that all shipping companies will integrate observational data to make route decisions based on the location of the whales.

Currently Oceanographic Instituteis working with French shipping company CMA CGM to deploy two new robotic buoys off the US East Coast. The robots, installed near Norfolk, Virginia, and Savannah, Georgia, will complement a network of six devices already installed off the east coast of North America.

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