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Whale-safe buoy wins a patent

An MIT Sea Grant College Program researcher has invented a fishing buoy that he says will help prevent entanglements by whales, as well as fishing boat keels, rudders and tow lines.

Cliff Goudey, director of the MIT Sea Grant program’s Center for Fisheries Engineering Research, says the inspiration for his recently patented Whale-Free Buoy came from the shape of a musical instrument. He made the tapered polyurethane cone that attaches to the bottom of a foam buoy using a mold he made from a trombone bell.

According to Goudey, the device’s gradual transition from the thin flexible buoy line to the flexible tapered buoy stem has shown a remarkable ability to shed objects that would snag an ordinary buoy. Testing was done with a “pseudo whale fin” on a strut mounted on the side of a lobster boat.

MIT is seeking a commercial manufacturer to produce the Whale-Free Buoy.