Last month in the middle of November, a high tech buoy which had been deployed off the coast of New York picked up something remarkable. The sound was that of a North Atlantic Right Whale, it was the ‘up call’ of one of the estimated 500 remaining of these whales.
The buoy had been deployed by a local Oceanographic Institution during the Summer months and it has started picking up these noises over the last few weeks. It wasn’t the first whale that was picked up, at the end of October researchers who had been monitoring the equipment also detected another whale on the endangered list. The Sei whale can grow over 60 feet long and is very rarely spotted in this area.
Surprisingly despite being near one of the biggest cities in the world, this area is home to a lot of marine wildlife. Although the main criteria of the buoy was obviously research it does play an important secondary role because of it’s real time detection facility. The buoy can be used to alert ship captains that there are potentially whales in the area and they can be vigilant.
Because the area has busy shipping lanes next to it, then ships are obviously of a significant danger to the whales. In fact this area sees the highest incidence of ships striking whales accidentally, which is of course is not good for either parties. The technology contained in this device allows an alert to be sent to all sea captains in the area allowing them to try and avoid these encounters.
The whales have come in amazingly close to the shore in this area, and last month one was even seen in the region of the Statue of Liberty.
The populations of these sea giants were first decimated by the whaling industry. Right whales earned the “right” name because they were deemed optimal for hunting. The large and fast-swimming sei whales, which we know very little about, were similarly exploited.