One of the world’s most endangered whale species could have added protection from threats posed by human marine activity, through technology developed by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

In partnership with the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and the marine survey company Gardline Geosurvey Limited, UEA researchers have developed machine learning techniques that can be used to detect the presence of North Atlantic right whales by listening for the sounds they make underwater.

Detecting the animals’ presence before they reach close proximity to large vessels or enter a mitigation zone can both protect animals and avoid costly shutdowns of offshore operations.

The findings, ‘Robust North Atlantic right whale detection using deep learning models for denoising’, is published today in a special edition on machine learning in acoustics, in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

North Atlantic right whales are…

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