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Underwater Robot Deployed to Aid Endangered Right Whales Off Georgia Coast

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A newly launched glider still tethered to the boat.

During its deployment from Jan. 30 to Feb. 13, the motorless yellow glider zig-zagged up and down through the waters off Savannah by changing its buoyancy and center of gravity.

Credit: Skidaway Institute of Oceanography

Researchers at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and the University of South Carolina deployed an underwater robot to listen for endangered North Atlantic right whales swimming near the Georgia port of Savannah.

The torpedo-shaped glider, named Argus, allows the researchers to listen to the recordings in near-real time.

The goal is to eventually issue real-time alerts to shippers and recreational boaters about the presence of these whales, which typically hug the shoreline and are vulnerable to injury or death from ship strikes during their annual migration.

Whale calls flagged by a machine learning algorithm were then verified by the University of South Carolina team.

Skidaway's Catherine Edwards, who operated the glider, said eight detections of right whales were verified during the Jan. 30 to Feb. 13 deployment.

From 90.1 FM WABE

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