Software aims to stop whale crashes


Researchers at the University of Montreal have modeled the routes of both whales and boats in the St. Lawrence Estuary to prevent a collision course between the two — an encounter that often proves fatal for the marine mammals, many of which are endangered species.

Although there is little data on the actual number of collisions, "many quasi-collisions are reported and these accidents are a threat to the recovery of certain species," said Clément Chion, a doctoral student who helped model the whale software.

The computer program simulates the travels of five mammal species — minke whale, fin whale, beluga, humpback and blue whale — and the routes of three types of boats — recreation, excursion and cargo — while factoring in human behavior and changing environmental conditions.

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