Whale Safe project trials mic’d buoys with AI scanning to help prevent ship strikes

Buoys equipped with onboard computers could use AI to help save humpback whales in the US from ship collisions. | Photo by Tim Graham / Getty Images

AI software monitoring sounds from within bright yellow buoys could reduce whale deaths by identifying whale species and pod locations. Scientists then verify the data and relay that information to any ships passing nearby, helping them to avoid the animals. The Whale Safe project was launched by Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory and partners, with the first Whale Safe systems already deployed in the Santa Barbara Channel near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Each buoy carries an onboard computer that records whale sounds using an underwater microphone. An AI algorithm then detects the clicks and squeals of specific whale species before transmitting the data via satellite every two hours, where a scientist will review the…

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