Oct 31, 2022
Technology has helped humans stay connected. But can it help save the world’s oceans and animals that live within those waters? A scientist is trying to answer that question.
Douglas McCauley leads the Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory. He's using drones, satellites, and algorithms to track how industry is changing the oceans. He looks at how more ships in the water alter the ocean. His first effort involves stopping ships from hitting blue whales in the Pacific.
He collects data from a special buoy. It listens for whale songs. Then, it identifies them by species. The results are sent to a satellite. The satellite then logs the data in an app called Whale Safe. The app can tell shippers how close their boats are to a whale. McCauley hopes pilots can use this technology to steer their ships clear of the huge mammals. That would protect the whales from harm.
The ocean scientist told The Washington Post that he hopes to use the technology to protect the seas in other ways. Among them: Collecting plastic waste, studying climate change’s effects on the waters, and warning about seabed mining. He also wants to track sharks using drones and artificial intelligence (AI).
McCauley’s co-workers describe him as both a daring scientist and dedicated ocean advocate.
“We are in trouble if we don’t do something different,” McCauley told The Post. “I realized that if I kept sticking my head literally underwater or stayed in the lab, these problems weren’t going to fix themselves.”
Photo from Reuters.