Stranded whales can now be found by satellites

A team of researchers is working to identify stranded whale bodies through satellite imagery. The technique uses machine learning to find animal carcasses more easily and accurately.

Satellite image of a beached whale (Source: Gizmodo / Reproduction)

The team, led by Preter Fretwell of the British Antactic Survey, analyzed satellite images to identify whether or not a particular shape corresponded to a whale. In cases where there was certainty, the photo went through a process of analyzing the wavelengths of light that appeared in the images.

"It's important to leverage human technological advances to do a better job, to understand and protect the natural world, " Jennifer Jackson, molecular phylogeneticist at the British Antarctic Survey, told Gizmodo .

The researcher also highlighted the advantages that satellite imagery can offer. Jackson explained that when monitoring is done in this way, data can be obtained as soon as the animal is identified before carcasses can be moved by natural forces. Another advantage is that satellite imagery can help you understand the causes of whale death.

Agility and accuracy

Research such as this may help to understand some phenomena such as Chile's in 2015. At the time, at least 343 whales were found dead off the coast of the country. The bodies were discovered by chance during a research flight over a remote, rugged region some time after the animals ran aground. This made it difficult to understand what caused so many whales to die.

Researchers studying the carcass of a whale (Source: Gizmodo / Reproduction)

Now, with satellites helping to locate cetaceans, research teams can reach the site as soon as the body is detected. For Carlos Olavarría, executive director of Chile's Center for Advanced Study of Arid Areas, the sooner the carcasses are reached, the easier it will be to understand the cause of death.

"It is very unusual for many whales to die in only one specific place, " Olavarría told Gizmodo. “It tells us that something is happening all over the environment. We need to be closer to the moment these animals die so that we can know what is happening all around them. ”

Stranded whales can now be found by satellites via TecMundo