Friday, 15 August 2014

Endangered right whales to be tracked using autonomous gliders

North Atlantic right whales greatest threats include ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear

By Alison Auld, The Canadian Press Posted: Aug 06, 2014 7:36 AM AT Last Updated: Aug 06, 2014 7:36 AM AT

The team is hoping the gliders — long, slender electric devices that can quietly collect data on the marine ecosystem and its inhabitants — might identify areas where the whales congregate when they're not in their usual haunts. 

(Courtesy: New England Aquarium)
Sleek yellow gliders will soon cruise the waters off Nova Scotia in a high-tech bid to track down one of the world's most endangered marine mammals and possibly provide clues to an ecological mystery.

Canadian and American scientists are getting ready to deploy autonomous underwater vehicles around the Scotian shelf to look for rare North Atlantic right whales and learn more about their habitats.

The team is hoping the gliders — long, slender electric devices that can quietly collect data on the marine ecosystem and its inhabitants — might identify areas where the whales congregate when they're not in their usual haunts.

"We're going to put eyes and ears into the water and go looking for those missing whales and their habitats," said Chris Taggart, a professor in the Oceanography Department at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

"We know that these whales are going somewhere else and we haven't a clue where."

Taggart is one of several researchers from the New England Aquarium, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the University of Victoria collaborating on the glider project to see if they can help determine the whales' migratory paths and critical habitats.


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