Satellites to Count Whales
New satellite technology is being used to count whales, and estimate their population size. Using Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite imagery, alongside image processing software, researchers were able to automatically detect and count whales breeding in part of the Golfo Nuevo, Peninsula Valdes in Argentina. The new method could revolutionize how whale population size is estimated. Marine mammals are extremely difficult to count on a large scale and traditional methods, such as counting from platforms or land, can be costly and inefficient. “This is a proof of concept study that proves whales can be identified and counted by satellite. Whale populations have always been difficult to assess; traditional means of counting them are localized, expensive and lack accuracy.
Small Coastal Dolphins Awarded Protected Area During Rio + 20
The “Restinga de Jurubatiba” National Park has a coastal area 44 km long and is composed of shrub like trees, rich fauna and flora, 18 pristine coastal lagoons that occasionally open up to the sea. However up to now, its 15 hectares did not encompass the sea fronting it. That is precisely where the most endangered group of dolphins in Brazil are found in greater abundance. The Pontoporia blainvillei, commonly known as “Toninha” in these parts, is set to be awarded its first dedicated preservation area in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The idea is to include an area with a depth of up to 30 meters (following the depth curve), along the 44 km coastal area that comprises the National Park. This will add up to a 15 km increase in the protected area.
Japan’s Small Cetacean Overkill
According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an independent organization committed to bringing about change that protects the natural world from environmental crime and abuse, over a million toothed whales, dolphins and turtles, have been killed in direct hunts in Japan in the past 70 years. Catch limits set by the Government of Japan for 2013 permit the killing of 16,655 small cetaceans. This represents the largest directed hunt of cetaceans in the world. A comprehensive analysis of the available scientific data demonstrates unequivocally that there are grave concerns regarding the sustainability of these hunts. Nine small cetacean species are targeted in Japan’s coastal hunts, which take the form of small-type coastal whaling, hand harpoon hunts and drive hunts.