Saturday, 15 February 2014

Satellites to help spot and count whales

February 2014: Satellites in space can be used to count whales, and ultimately estimate their population size, say scientists.

Using very high resolution (VHR) satellite imagery, alongside image processing software, they were able to automatically detect and count whales breeding in part of the Golfo Nuevo, Peninsula Valdes in Argentina.

The new method, published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, could revolutionise how whale population size is estimated. Marine mammals are extremely difficult to count on a large scale and traditional methods, such as counting from platforms or land, can be costly and inefficient. 

Lead author Peter Fretwell from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) says: “Whale populations have always been difficult to assess; traditional means of counting them are localized, expensive and lack accuracy. The ability to count whales automatically, over large areas in a cost effective way will be of great benefit to conservation efforts for this and potentially other whale species.” 


satellite versus aerial photos



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