The 10-buoy Right Whale Listening Network (http://listenforwhales.org/) -- developed at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution -- is arriving barely in time for the beleaguered right whale. The species was hunted to the brink of extinction centuries ago, and now fewer than 400 of the 50-ton black giants remain. Collisions with ships are currently a leading cause of death.
Living 60 years or more, right whales skim tiny plankton from the shallow coastal waters of the Atlantic. Each winter and spring, many right whales congregate -- along with fin, minke and humpback whales -- in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, 25 miles east of Boston Harbor, which bisects official shipping lanes used by some 1,500 container ships, tankers, cruise liners and fishing boats every year.
"For the first time, we can go online and hear up-to-the-minute voices of calling whales, and see where those whales are in the ocean off Boston and Cape Cod," said Christopher Clark, director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Lab of Ornithology. "Better yet, those calls immediately get put to use in the form of timely warnings to ship captains."
Each "auto-detection" buoy recognizes the right whale's call, automatically rings up recorders at the lab and uploads the sound. Analysts verify the call and then feed the signals to the listening network's Web site and to the Northeast U.S. Right Whale Sighting Advisory System, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The network of buoys is strategically placed between inbound and outbound shipping lanes, and each buoy listens in a 5-mile radius, providing information on where collision risks are highest. To help protect whales when they are quiet, alerts remain in effect around a buoy for 24 hours after a call is detected.
The buoy system was installed to reduce impacts by ships traveling to and from a new liquefied natural gas terminal, built last year by Northeast Gateway Deepwater Port in Massachusetts Bay, offshore of Boston. NOAA officials mandated that the company take measures to avoid collisions between right whales and the terminal's 90,000-ton supply tankers.
Under a $47 million contract with the company, the Lab of Ornithology will operate the buoy array over the terminal's 40-year expected lifetime. Liquefied natural gas tankers must now slow to 10 knots in response to buoy alerts and post lookouts for whales and sea turtles. Clark hopes the reduced speeds from tankers will set a precedent for other ships, which are not required to slow down.
Clark has spent 30 years developing this idea from basic, exploratory science into a real-world application.
"Scientific studies show that even the deaths of one or two breeding females each year could lead to the population's extinction," Clark said. "If all ships slow down for whales, it could make a real difference."
Blaine Friedlander | EurekAlert!
Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology