Cool Science
Preventing Ship Strikes

February 12, 2016

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Photo Credit: ©Ricardo Antunes

A gray whale that bears the scars of a propellor.

Roughly 90 percent of global trade happens via the sea. In 2000, for the safety of all those ships, the International Maritime Organization adopted the Automatic Identification System (AIS), giving boats a way to identify and be identified by others.

But could the system do even more?

"AIS now provides a rich source of data to understand vessel traffic across the entire globe–even in the most remote areas of the open ocean," said Dr. Martin Robards, Director of WCS's Arctic Beringia Program. "This system also has the potential to help us minimize the negative effects of shipping on wildlife."

This World Whale Day, check out an interesting study by Robards among others on just how it could do that.

"AIS can be used to identify regions where shipping lanes and important marine mammal habitats and migrations overlap," explained Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, Director of WCS's Ocean Giants Program, "as well as areas where ocean noise may be impacting acoustically sensitive species."

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