Vancouver company leading effort to monitor endangered whales from space
Published Saturday, January 30, 2021 5:13PM PST Last Updated Saturday, January 30, 2021 7:51PM PST
VANCOUVER -- A Vancouver-based company is part of a group of researchers working with the Canadian Space Agency to help protect North Atlantic right whales.
Hatfield Consultants has been selected to lead a group of researchers on a project that will use satellite data to locate and monitor the endangered whales in Canadian waters, the company said in a news release.
The project is funded by the federal government, and involves Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada, as well as the University of New Brunswick, Duke University, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and two other private companies.
Hatfield Consultants will be tasked with developing a cloud-based technology platform that will both monitor the whales in near-real-time and predict their movements, with the goal of preventing the animals from colliding with boats or becoming entangled in fishing gear.
The consortium the company will lead is one of five different consortia that have been tapped to develop "smartWhales solutions" that use space-based technologies. The total cost of the smartWhales project is $5.3 million.
“Hatfield (Consultants) is looking forward to leading an amazing team of scientists to use Earth observation technology and deep learning to support North Atlantic right whale conservation, while collaborating with all the smartWhales consortia and Federal scientists," said Dr. Andy Dean, a senior partner at Hatfield Consultants, in the company's release.
Dean told CTV News the project will begin in February on the East Coast, but he added he's hopeful the technology Hatfield Consultants develops will also be used to monitor West Coast whales in the future.