For the First Time, they Count Whales from Space to Prevent their Extinction

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A group of experts from the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge (UK) obtained high-resolution satellite images of four different whale species : the fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) -the second largest cetacean after the blue whales, the southern right whale (Eubalaena australis), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) and gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus).

The evaluation of the diverse populations of Mysticetos of the planet is essential to guarantee the survival of the whales.

The specimens of these four species, thanks to aerospace technology, were spotted in the Mediterranean, in southern Argentina, in Hawaii and on the coast of Mexico. Its sighting allowed the organisms in charge of its conservation to identify ten populations of whales that were not known until now, according to Clarín.

The finding was published in the journal Marine Mammal Science. The authors affirm that it is “a great step towards the development of a much more effective monitoring system that will allow detecting the changes in the populations of Mysticetos, as well as their behaviour, especially in those cases in which the whale’s frequent corners of the ocean inaccessible to the human species. ”

The images were captured 620 kilometres high by the WorldView3 satellite, which covers an area of 5,000 square kilometres. The great resolution of the photographs is of such magnitude that identifies objects of up to 30 centimetres as do the best military systems. This allows you to observe the forms of – for example – the fins or tails of these creatures, which allows distinguishing between different species.

This technology is key to identify the routes that whales make, according to the same publication, which would allow protecting these areas and thus avoid collisions between the mysticeps and the boats that frequent the same areas, as well as their capture.


In 2014, a British scientific study demonstrated for the first time the utility of satellites in orbit on Earth to locate and count the number of cetaceans that populate the oceans. The images were provided by the WorldView2, a satellite of great precision. This technology allowed the identification of 55 whales and 23 other forms that could also be found at or just below the surface.

For the First Time, they Count Whales from Space to Prevent their Extinction


The International Whaling Commission (IWC) maintains the prohibition of all commercial whaling activities since species such as blue whales or fin whales are species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Despite this, Iceland, Norway and Japan continue to hunt whales claiming that it is a traditional activity or captures with a scientific purpose.


Source: La Voz