Intelligent Buoys That Detect Whales Could Reach The Strait

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The collisions of boats with whales have led to initiatives to avoid these accidents, which in recent years have significantly affected some species considered endangered. Between 2007 and 2019, more than 1,200 copies of these cetaceans have already died. In Chile, since 2017, eight whales have died from this situation.

Considering that 90% of freight transport worldwide is through sea routes, the Meri Foundation and the Ministry of the Environment announced the development of an early warning pilot project in Northern Patagonia – called the Blue Boat Initiative – that, by means of intelligent buoys, will deliver information to the boats about the close presence of these mammals and thus avoid collisions. The announcement was released this week in the online seminar “Oceans: challenges and solutions associated with the blue economy” and contemplates the installation of these devices in the Corcovado Gulf and the Island of Chiloé.

The hydrophones located in the buoy will capture the sound of the whales and will be able to send via satellite -in real time- from the transmitter of the buoy to the boat, the point where the mammal is located. But in addition to this information, relevant data will be provided on the oceanographic factors that affect climate change such as sea temperature, acidity, oxygen, among others.

The head of the Meri Foundation’s ocean area and designer of the project, Sonia Español Jiménez, indicated that “there will be three buoys in the inland sea and another three outside, to monitor the whales that enter and leave this ecoregion, one of the main ones that use whales for food. “

The ships will receive a radio signal that will warn that whales are present in the area in which they are sailing, and that they will have the necessary reaction capacity to avoid an accident.

Regarding the beginnings of this project, he recalled that “since 2012 the foundation has made a study of blue whales, mainly in the Corcovado Gulf, to determine why they are in this area and what their behavior and movement patterns are; Hence, different scientific projects have been generated, which from the beginning included the acoustic part, which is to study whales through their sounds. A large amount of scientific evidence is generated that shows that the behavior of whales, being different at night compared to the day, are more at risk of collisions; They are more vulnerable at night because their food, the krill, rises to the surface and since the whales follow it, they stay longer and this added to the lower visibility, the probability of collision is greater.

According to experiences in other countries and available technology, this initiative was generated and will be evaluated, with the possibility that it will reach Magellanic seas in the near future, “which we know is a very important area, for example for the whale. humpbacked and collided. The idea of ​​this project is not to regulate speed, but rather to be a tool that helps boats to know that there is a whale and therefore, they can reduce speed or take another measure such as a lookout. “

Intelligent Buoys That Detect Whales Could Reach The Strait

Depending on the areas, the buoys are initially calculated to detect whales at a distance of 60 kilometers, mainly from the blue, humpback, sei, and frank species, which are the ones in greatest danger. Equally another aspect to consider is the speed of each cetacean. “The sei whale is known to be very fast in principle and would have a greater ability to sneak away, but as long as it detects it or is alert, compared to other whales such as the blue whale, which is very large and more at risk than any part of your body suffers a collision. Others are more curious, such as the humpback, which have a little more tendency to get close to the boats, “said the designer of the project.



Source: la prensa austral