The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is not only in the business of all things birds. For example, the Bioacoustics Research Program (BRP) develops acoustic technologies that are used to record anything that makes a sound. Current projects using these tools include monitoring birds (my project, for example), but also elephants and whales.
BRP has been working on a project to monitor endangered North Atlantic Right Whales off of the coast of Massachusetts, where the chances of a ship striking one is heightened. The whales use Cape Cod Bay, but so do ships. BRP has devised a method to find whales and alert any incoming ships so they can take necessary precautions to avoid a potentially devastating strike.
The green dots on this map (which I pinched from the web site, along with this text) show locations of buoys listening for endangered right whales. If you see a red whale icon instead, it means a buoy at that location has heard a right whale within the last 24 hours. This information is made available to ship captains, who can slow to 10 knots and post a lookout to avoid a collision. (Note the map I'm displaying here is accurate as of noon on Wednesday, 09 April.)
Check out the Right Whale Listening Network for more information about this project, the technology, and to learn about the whales, including listening to their songs.
Updated 11 Apr: Check out this article that highlights an extraordinary number of right whales seen in Massachusetts Bay recently: 79 of the world's remaining 350 right whales are feeding in the area.
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