The new method, published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, could revolutionise how whale population size is estimated. Marine mammals are extremely difficult to count on a large scale and traditional methods, such as counting from platforms or land, can be costly and inefficient.
Lead author Peter Fretwell from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which is funded by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), explains;
“This is a proof of concept study that proves whales can be identified and counted by satellite. Whale populations have always been difficult to assess; traditional means of counting them are localized, expensive and lack accuracy. The ability to count whales automatically, over large areas in a cost effective way will be of great benefit to conservation efforts for this and potentially other whale species.”
Previously, satellites have provided limited success in counting whales but their accuracy has improved in recent years.
Read more at: Phys.org