Preventing Whale Collisions With Vessels


A Texas A&M-Galveston professor is developing a tool to save whales from colliding with ships.

A groundbreaking new online tool called Whale Safe has been created by marine scientists and top whale researchers from across the country, including Texas A&M University at Galveston’s Dr. Ana Širović. The tool allows users to detect the endangered animals in order to mitigate vessel strikes and increase conservation efforts of the endangered marine species.

Displaying near real-time data to help prevent ships and whales from colliding, Whale Safe is an analysis and mapping tool designed to lessen the chance of a strike or collision. The interactive web tool is the result of three years of work between scientists and researchers from Texas A&M-Galveston, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southwest Fisheries Science Center and more.

The high number of whale and vessel collisions is the result of multiple factors. Blue, humpback and fin whales are common found along the West Coast’s cold, nutrient-rich waters. The whales’ migration paths unfortunately overlap with some of the busiest shipping routes in the world. According to researchers related to the project, 80 endangered blue, humpback and fin whales were killed as a result of vessel collisions in the last two years just off the West Coast.

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