Satellites Are Used To Keep Track Of The Population Of Whales From Space

First Posted: Feb 07, 2017 04:24 AM EST

Scientists are now using satellites from space to keep track of the population of humpback whales. These whales had been classified as endangered since the 1970s. On the other hand, in September, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration categorized nine of the 14 humpback whale species off the protected list.

The researchers use the services of DigitalGlobe, which is a U.S. satellite company, to take images of whale populations along off the coasts of Western Australia in black and white. A shot of an image is priced at about US$15,270, according to Sci.Mic.

Curt Jenner, the managing director of the Center for Whale Research, said that the aim of the project is to keep tabs on Western Australia's humpback whale numbers. He further said that they want to make sure that the population of humpback whales is still viable and has recovered to its full potential. The said creatures were hunted almost to extinction in the early to mid-20th century, according to Mashable.

The team prefers the black and white images because they give clear and higher resolution for spotting the whales than the color ones. This could also lessen the costs. The researchers received two days' worth of imagery for about A$40,000 ($30,600). It is funded by the WA Marine Science Institute. Jenner said that even though AU$20,000 an image sounds like a lot of money, it is nothing compared to what it costs to put a team of people out and flying aerial surveys.

The drone technology is often used in whale watch. On the other hand, it could not deliver the scale a satellite can. The satellite company DigitalGlobe uses its WorldView-3 satellite system that could take images during fair weather days.

Jenner stated that as the time goes on, only your imagination limits what can be done as the technology gets better. "We're looking forward to the next five to 10 years very much."

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