rightwhale Science Doing its Part to Protect the North Atlantic Right Whale

picture provided by: NOAA Ship DELAWARE II

Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has developed a new Right Whale listening buoy for the Massachusetts Bay. The buoys are designed to recognize the distinctive call of the Atlantic Right Whale which migrates throughout the bay. When heard, the buoys emit a signal to a web-site and marine warning system that lets ships know that the whales are in the shipping lanes; thus, they are able to avoid collisions with the endangered species.

These 50 ton ocean wonders were hunted to near extinction, leaving their numbers today, at less than 400 whales. During the winter and spring months the Right Whales gather at the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary; near the Boston Harbor. Over 1,500 vessels pass through this area, and collisions with the whales are the leading cause of the animals deaths each year.

The 10 buoys are placed strategically along the inbound and out going shipping lines. Each buoy has a 5 mile radius of listening and alerts analysts of the whale calls its hearing. This gives the workers time to inform ship captains that the whales are in the area they are headed, with time to avoid accidents. The warning call remains in effect for a 24 hour period after the Right Whales have been detected, to further protect them during times where they are being non-vocal. Ships must slow to 10 knots and post whale/sea turtle look outs during an alert.

The buoy alert system is expected to stay operational for the next 40 years while the Liquefied Natural Gas terminal is expected to stay in business. Hopefully, but protecting the whales now, during this vital time in their attempt to reestablish their numbers, they will still be around for future generations.

You can here the whales live through the public alert website at : http://listenforwhales.org

for the complete article about how buoys are being used to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whales visit science daily at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428104518.htm