A brand new marine robotic, a part of a fleet of underwater gliders operated by the Ocean Monitoring Community and Dalhousie College in Halifax, will assist monitor endangered North Atlantic proper whales to maintain them from colliding with ships.
The most recent glider will carry a hydrophone, which might determine the calls of proper whales and report their areas, Fred Whoriskey, govt director of the Ocean Monitoring Community, mentioned Monday. The College of New Brunswick and Transport Canada are additionally companions within the $3.6-million venture that may span the following 5 years.
“There is no such thing as a one solution to successfully decide the place the whales are at any given second when they’re within the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” Whoriskey mentioned in an interview. “So we have to begin mixing our approaches.”
Aerial surveillance is just good on sunny days with few waves, he mentioned, including that hydrophones mounted on mounted buoys have their limitations.
“This yr we’re deploying gliders into the delivery channels,” he mentioned. “They go down, hear and detect whale calls and are available as much as the floor periodically and broadcast data whether or not there are whales there or not.”
Whoriskey mentioned the gliders are a few metre-and-a-half in size. “They’re banana yellow, and they’re formed like a torpedo with wings.”
Three gliders are getting used within the Gulf this yr, and the most recent one, now being constructed, will exchange a type of. Whoriskey mentioned other than listening for whale calls, the gliders are in a position to report water temperatures and oxygen ranges, in addition to measure chlorophyll and algae.
Since June 2017, an unusually massive variety of proper whales have died, decreasing the inhabitants to fewer than 400 animals — a quantity that has some consultants warning that the species is on the point of extinction. Ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements account for a lot of the deaths.
Whoriskey mentioned he believes his group’s analysis, which incorporates analyzing the animals’ actions and the placement of meals sources, will assist the species bounce again.
The whales have historically spent the summer time months in and across the Bay of Fundy, however in recent times they’ve migrated additional north to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, elevating considerations about their presence in delivery lanes. Pace limits for ships and quite a lot of fishery closures have been ordered in recent times after whales have been detected within the area.
“You may see the species combating again,” Whoriskey mentioned. “We have had calf manufacturing this yr. It completely behooves us to do every little thing in our energy to allow them to bounce again.”