Scientists using robots to help endangered whales

Scientists using robots to help endangered whales

A team of scientists are using underwater robots to find and trace the locations of a rare and endangered type of whale and to further their preservation activities.

The torpedo-shaped underwater robots, which are called gliders, are capable to recording calls from four types of endangered whales and can help researchers find their real time locations. These robots can be sent for missions for weeks at a time. The significant aspect of these robots is that, they can operate and work easily in conditions that are too dangerous and inhospitable for planes and boats.

The robots, which are being developed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, were able to locate nine endangered North Atlantic right whales and allowed researchers to help carry out preservation activities. The robots also identified an area that allowed the researchers to observe the whales directly.

"The system worked, quite frankly, beyond my expectations," said WHOI scientist Mark Baumgartner, a project co-leader.

The robots are about six feet long with short wings and they are not new but their capabilities have been significantly enhanced by the researchers. They were deployed in the Gulf of Maine in 2005. The identification of the rare whales by these robots can help the authorities plan preservation activities and also help serious boat accidents.

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