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Whale Safe – an AI-based system to prevent ship collisions with whales – will launch off the coast of San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Marine Mammal Center and Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory announced a collaboration to bring Whale Safe, a technology-based mapping and analysis system to help prevent collisions between whales and ships, to the region of San Francisco Bay. This extension of the Whale Safe platform, from its beginnings in Southern California, is launched thanks to the generous support of Marc and Lynne Benioff.

“Whale Safe is on a mission to help save the incredible mammals that ruled the oceans for tens of millions of years,” said Marc Benioff, president and co-CEO of Salesforce. “Whale-ship collisions continue to be one of the leading causes of death for endangered whales, but with these new types of monitoring technology and warning systems, the death toll has started to rise. It’s a triple win for the planet: we’re saving whales, fighting climate change, and promoting community health by reducing air pollution. We need more solutions like this from alliances between science and business.”

The tragic death of Fran, California’s most photographed whale, last month is the latest example of why Whale Safe is needed off the northern California coast. Whale Safe technology will allow the public, media, government officials, shipping companies and their ship captains to go online and in near real time, monitor vessel speeds and the presence of whales in the waters. coastal northern California. In addition to providing an immediate benefit for monitoring vessel speeds, the data will also be recorded and analyzed by the Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory and the Marine Mammal Center to help inform additional preventative safety recommendations.

“Whaling ship collisions are a global concern, so when solving the problem and building the Whale Safe system, we wanted it to be a model that allowed replication and expansion into more other regions. We are excited to extend the technology and expertise to the San Francisco Bay Area, where ship strikes are a major concern for endangered whales,” said Callie Steffen, head of the Whale Safe project at Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory.

Today, more than 50% of all container traffic to and from the United States passes through West Coast ports. Blue, fin, humpback and gray whales are vulnerable to ship strikes as they migrate and feed in areas that overlap shipping lanes and routes. Scientists estimate that more than 80 endangered whales are killed each year by ship strikes off the west coast of the United States.

“Whale Safe uses best-in-class technology with best-practice conservation strategies to create a solution to reduce risk to whales. This is where technology meets Mother Nature for the benefit of marine life. I am extremely grateful to Marc and Lynne Benioff. Whales and ships must coexist in an increasingly busy ocean. Whale Safe San Francisco provides data for making decisions that protect whales while supporting efficient maritime commerce,” said Dr. Jeff Boehm, Director of External Relations for the Marine Mammal Center.

The number of known whale deaths from vessel strikes on the West Coast has increased over the past decade and those we see represent only a fraction of the total number that die each year. In fact, scientists estimate that the carcass detection rate is only 5-17%, so the actual number of dead whales is far higher than the number observed and recorded.

Whale Safe uses an AI-enabled acoustic monitoring system, big data models, and direct whale sightings recorded by trained observers and citizen scientists. The three data streams are validated, compiled and disseminated into an easily interpretable “whale presence assessment” ranging from low to very high whale activity. Additionally, Expedition Report Cards are created to display a vessel or company’s cooperation with Voluntary Vessel Speed ​​Reduction Zones implemented by NOAA, EPA, and Coast Guard. American. This gives captains of large ships the data they need to know when to slow down, which is the single most effective measure to drastically reduce the number of fatal ship strikes.

Whale Safe has been deployed in the Santa Barbara Channel since 2020. By creating a “whale school zone” where vessel speeds have been reduced, major shipping lines have begun to implement data and slow down during transit . When ships slow down, the risk of collision and death decreases dramatically. Whale Safe Santa Barbara and the new San Francisco expansion will show the effectiveness of this tool for other places where whales are at risk of colliding with ships, such as in San Diego, key ports along the eastern seaboard. United States and international sites. such as Sri Lanka, Chile, Greece and the Canary Islands, to name a few.

“We look forward to the day when ‘whale safe’ becomes as ubiquitous as ‘fair trade’. We believe consumers care that retailers ship their products with shipping companies that meet our shared conservation goal of keeping whale waters safe,” said Dr. Boehm.

“Whales are animals of such beauty, ecological importance and antiquity. They do not deserve to be killed on the road at sea. This is a preventable problem. We can no longer be passive observers of endangered whales that wash up along San Francisco’s beaches.Whale Safe is an exciting gathering of marine scientists, technologists, conservation organizations, business leaders, and government partners to do something about it,” said Dr. Douglas McCauley, director of the Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory.

Whale Safe San Francisco will be led by the Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory and the Marine Mammal Center, along with leading scientists from the Cascadia Research Collective and Point Blue Conservation Science. The tool was developed in collaboration with leading scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, University of California Santa Cruz, University of Washington, Conserve. iO and NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

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About the Marine Mammal Center

The Marine Mammal Center is a world leader in marine mammal health, science and conservation, and is the largest marine mammal hospital in the world. The center’s teaching hospital and training programs operate worldwide, with its headquarters in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, part of the National Park Service. The Center’s expert teams travel the world to work with emerging first responders and has itself rescued more than 24,000 marine mammals within 600 miles of its authorized rescue zone of coastal California and the Big Island of Hawaii. . The Centre’s mission is to advance global ocean conservation through marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research and education.

For more information, please visit MarineMammalCenter.org. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

About the Benioff Ocean Science Lab

The Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory (formerly The Benioff Ocean Initiative), based at the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is an applied research center that harnesses the power of science and technology to create scalable solutions and replicable to pressing ocean health challenges. . The Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory works with scientists around the world to address issues such as plastic pollution, endangered species and climate change. UC Santa Barbara is a leading marine research center committed to using science to promote effective ocean management.

For more information, please visit https://bosl.ucsb.edu/. follow us on Twitter.