Maritime Shorts

Early whale detection 

WOODS HOLE  Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are developing a whale detection system specifically designed for vessel-strike mitigation that uses thermal infrared cameras to monitor for whales. According to lead scientist Dan Zitterbart, “We have a thermal imaging scanner that scans the surface for whale exhalations, or blows. If a whale surfaces and blows, its thermal signature can be recorded by the camera.”  

The cameras are linked to artificial intelligence that Zitterbart’s team has trained on examples of waves, birds, vessels and whales. These algorithms aim to filter out thermal signatures of boats, bird and waves to only send out alerts of probable whale detections. If the cameras are mounted high enough— such as on wind farm turbines or coastal mountains— they’re able to detect whales up to 6.21 miles away. 

Mounted on ships, the system can alert captains to the presence of whales several miles away within seconds, enough time for most vessels to slow down or change course. Unlike human observation from planes and boats, these cameras don’t require ambient light, so they can spot whales around the clock. 


Helping young fishermen 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House and Senate both passed a bipartisan bill this week to help prepare young Americans for careers in fishing. The Young Fishermen’s Development Act, legislation Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) and Reps. Chellie Pingree (ME-01) and Jared Golden (ME-02) helped introduce last year, would provide federal grant funding for training and education on seamanship, navigation, vessel and engine care, and other essential topics to give aspiring fishermen the tools they need to enter the fishing industry.  

The Young Fisherman’s Development Act would authorize up to $200,000 in competitive grants through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program to support new and established local and regional training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives for young fishermen. 

The successful Eastern Maine Skippers program, which has helped prepare high school students for fishing careers for the last nine years, is an example of a Maine-based program that would be eligible for a grant through the legislation. 

The programs, workshops and services made available under the Young Fishermen’s Development Actinclude: seamanship, navigation, electronics, and safety; vessel and engine care, maintenance, and repair; innovative conservation fishing gear engineering and technology; entrepreneurship and good business practices; direct marketing, supply chain, and traceability; financial and risk management, including vessel, permit and quota purchasing. 

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