Cadets designed a project to avoid collisions between whales and ships


The scientists say that the right whale species are at risk of extinction. About 430 individuals remained and nearly 35 right whales were found dead. In 2016 and 2017 only 5 calves were born. The scientists declare that over the period 2017 and 2018 no calves were detected.

Two Coast Guard Academy cadets Ainsley Fruhwirth and Zoe Bolling decided to find a solution of this problem and save the whales. They spent two years on this project. According to the results of the observation a lot of individuals die because of the ship collision. This technology affords to give seafarers information about location in the definite area.

The North Atlantic right whale belongs to the right whale species. This species has a tendency to keep close to the coast. The whalers find them an easy target. Because when they are killed, the whales float as a result of the high blubber content.

Long time ago the right whale population was diminished by the hunters. Today the majority of the Individuals get into the gears of different vessels or struck by them.

The Coast Guard have been trying to save the whales for many years. “The Coast Guard is doing its part to help,” said Bolling. “However, we can do more. Humans are the reason for the loss of the whales and humans can fix it.”

Bolling and Fruhwirth have spent many years on making research and finding information about right whales which they got from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The seafarers are provided with the maps of the whales’ location due to acoustic buoys by means of which they listen for right whale calls.

“The right whales swim along the surface and are known as ‘curious’ animals, sometimes swimming right up to a ship,” said Bolling.

In the whale-populated regions, the captains are asked to slow down the speed of the vessel to 10 knots. In the North Atlantic the accident including whales are widely spread.

In order to prevent extinction of the whales Bolling and Fruhwirth involve other agencies to find a solution. For this purpose, they attended the 22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in October 2017. It was visited by more than 1,500 students, policy makers, scientists, managers from 65 countries to discuss strategies of species saving problems.

“This was a big deal,” said Lt. Chris Verlinden, a marine science instructor at the Coast Guard Academy who mentors Bolling and Fruhwith. “Occasionally cadets will go to events, but not on a level this prestigious.”

Bolling and Fruhwirth want to design a smart phone application that will help to avoid collisions between whales and ships using Livestream whale acoustic detection system and getting data from Digital Acoustic Monitoring buoys and gliders. The young researches want to introduce the application for military vessels planning operations using a Coast Guard geographical planning program. Their hope that this application can also decrease right whale accidents due to ship strikes in the regions where the whales live.