Today’s Solutions: November 28, 2022

North Atlantic right whale populations used to thrive in the ocean. As of 2021, though, approximately 300 right whales remain in the wild, a steep drop from 480 right whales counted in 2011.

Reasons for the decline of the right whale population include entanglement in fishing nets, habitat loss, and climate change, which is forcing the whales into warmer and busier waters in search of food. This makes it more difficult for the remaining whales to avoid collisions with ships, another fatal event.

However, marine ecologist Mark Baumgartner may have a genius solution that could help protect the remaining right whales. Baumgartner worked for years on deploying real-time listening devices that record whale songs. Now, his lab has partnered with a marine shipping company to deploy two robotic buoys that can send information back to shore on the whereabouts of right whales in the ocean.

The tech, which was developed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, can help inform mariners and the public of the location of the endangered mammals, effectively preventing ships from colliding with them. This device could protect animals in a way that is beyond the scope of regulations and rules.

“We have to change our industrial practices when whales are around,” declares Baumgartner. “That’s what this tech enables. Having the industry tell us what works and what doesn’t is the best way to have solutions that will actually be implemented.”

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