"New System Aims to Save Whales Near San Francisco From Ship Collisions"

"Four whales have died near San Francisco this year after ships crashed into them, and scientists hope to drive that number to zero with new technology."

"THE PACIFIC OCEAN NEAR SAN FRANCISCO — Fran washed ashore in August, some 25 miles south of the Golden Gate Bridge. The beloved and much-photographed female humpback whale had a broken neck, most likely the result of being hit by a ship.

This latest instance of oceanic roadkill increased the tally of whales killed by ships near San Francisco this year to four. The true death toll is likely to be much higher as whale carcasses often sink to the sea floor.

Scientists and conservationists are trying to drive that number to zero. On Wednesday, Whale Safe, an A.I.-powered detection system, began operating around San Francisco Bay. Its goal is to warn large ships in the area’s waters when whales are nearby.

About 25 miles out to sea from the Golden Gate on Monday afternoon, a yellow buoy bobbed not far from the great white shark hunting grounds of the Farallon Islands. On a boat close by called the Nova, Douglas McCauley, director of the Benioff Ocean Initiative at the University of California, Santa Barbara, donned a wet suit and snorkel and jumped into the brine to give the buoy some T.L.C. before its big day. The buoy, tethered to an underwater microphone, is an integral part of Whale Safe."

Alex Fox reports for the New York Times September 21, 2022.

Source: NYTimes, 09/22/2022