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Warning Buoy Network Protects Right Whales 65

coondoggie alerts us to a story that is actually a few weeks old now about a network of sonic buoys to listen to right whales, in order to warn ships away from them. On April 10, 22% of the known population of right whales in the world — 79 out of 350 — were gathered at Stellwagen Bank, off of Massachusetts, to feed on a bumper crop of the tiny crustaceans called copepods. The network of smart buoys helps to protect the whales from the roughly 1,500 ships per year that go through this feeding ground on their way to and from Boston.
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Warning Buoy Network Protects Right Whales

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  • by pipingguy ( 566974 ) * on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @12:42AM (#23234828)
    What about the whales that are lefty, or even wrong?
    • by deek ( 22697 )
      If they're lefty, or wrong, I guess they're not protected.

      I initially read the title as meaning "whale rights". Which left me wondering what rights does the Buoy network protect? Whales already have free speech.
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        In other news, left whales sue for discrimination. The ACLU is representing them....

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jd ( 1658 )
        Whales already have free speech.

        If the US Navy's extra-powerful sonar is jamming long-distance whale communication and destroying whale hearing, as has been claimed, then maybe they DO need free speech protections.

        • Actually thats deliberate but its not supposed to be for the whales. They are just collateral damage.

          The US Navy is really going for the dolphins.
          Trying to distract them because they envy their intelligence.

          They haven't caught on to the mice yet though. ;)
          • They haven't caught on to the mice yet though. ;)
            Hyper-intelligent shades of blue are probably more disturbed by the light pollution than by the noise.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by micksam7 ( 1026240 ) *
      A nice tid-bit of info:

      Right whales got their name from whalers who called them "The right whales to hunt", and gained the nick-name "right whales". More info on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] as always.
      • My first thought when I saw the summary was "warning buoy makes it easier for illegal whalers to illegally whale". I thought that perhaps these were just poor whaling material. Obviously not! :P
      • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

        A nice tid-bit of info:

        Right whales got their name from whalers who called them "The right whales to hunt", and gained the nick-name "right whales".
        I always thought it was from the other whales saying "wait, you've got the wrong whale !" as they were trying to go away...

    • They are called right whales because they are the 'right whales to hunt.' Conveniently, they like to swim close to the surface, and after you kill them they will float, which made life easy for the big whaling ships 100 or so years ago. The sea used to be full of them. Now there are 350 left.
  • This is the sort of thing that puts a little hope into my generally "empty glass you tard!" sort of heart. If we can get people to put this sort of thing together, and it is actually working as this seems to be then we might still have a little hope of getting through the next few generations with at least some of the animals left for our kids to see.
  • by nebaz ( 453974 )
    Your rights underseas? Warning: Whales Network to Protect Rights? Out of order something seems.
  • I was actually hoping for less conservative whales in this world.
  • A better idea? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by caitsith01 ( 606117 )
    I haven't read TFA, but assuming the summary is accurate, this system warns ships away from whales. This, of course, relies on the fact that ships WANT to get away from whales - but couldn't a whaling ship use this to home in on its prey?

    A far more interesting system would be one which warns *whales* away from *ships*. If someone could come up with a cheap system which, upon detection of a largish ship, transmits the whalian equivalent of "Japanese/Norweigan ship approaching!!! Dive! Dive!", then instea
    • Re:A better idea? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy ( 963289 ) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @02:07AM (#23235284) Homepage Journal
      This, of course, relies on the fact that ships WANT to get away from whales - but couldn't a whaling ship use this to home in on its prey?

      I don't think there's a helluva lot of Norwegian & Japanese whaling inside Massachusetts Bay.

      then instead of ridiculous chases across the Southern Ocean environmental activists could simply charter a plane and drop thousands of the things around known whale migratory zones.

      The area of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is 50 million square kilometers. I don't think your solution is particularly practical.
    • I don't think we know how to speak whale yet though. If we did, it would work the other way too: "Wow, what a nice bunch of plankton. Come this way, quick!" transmitted by a whaling ship.
    • I think that what you suggest is possible, but in a more elegant way. I would suggest that a 'Skinner' box could be used with whales to add the ability to understand the context of the planet and then relate that to other whales. (one way) (another) I have observed dolphins and their family units, and I would say that the potential of an interface language exists. I have been studying this concept for humans. It is possible to relate information without language in visual form. I am merely speculating on th
      • by Perf ( 14203 )

        They might unite as one species , unlike humans, and dominate the planet and space. :)

        those would be the Wright whales - the ones that fly

    • I particularly like the idea that we could give whales some technology to fight back against the huge, fast, explosive harpoon-armed whaling technology presently employed by Japan.

      yeah like lasers mounted on there heads!

      Whales with frickin lasers on them!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ross.w ( 87751 )
      Whales already do this. They can hear ships engine noise from a long way off and whales with experience of being hunted (the ones that get away, if you like) will avoid the sound. Thus the Japanese commercial whaling (scientific, my arse) buggers things up for the multi-million dollar whale watching industry in Australia and New Zealand, because the whales can't tell the difference. Problem is the ships designed to hunt them are faster than the whales and they don't get tired. The whales dive to avoid them,
    • A far more interesting system would be one which warns *whales* away from *ships*. If someone could come up with a cheap system which, upon detection of a largish ship, transmits the whalian equivalent of "Japanese/Norweigan ship approaching!!! Dive! Dive!", then instead of ridiculous chases across the Southern Ocean environmental activists could simply charter a plane and drop thousands of the things around known whale migratory zones. Make the whole thing solar powered and super-long-lasting, too.

      It is a
    • We could use a cloaked Bird of Prey!
      • No Stephen, you ignorant slut, you couldn't. Those things aren't real. We've talked about it before.
        • You are obsessed and should seek help for that ugly narcissism you suffer from.
          • I don't know about obsession, but what I can tell you is that this bitch would look AWESOME with a shot of cum across her face.

            Check her out [myspace.com]

            Come to think of it, the dude would also look great with my cock in his mouth.
            • Am I supposed to be impressed that you know how to click links on web pages? I am not even bothered that you choose to hide behind a cloud of anonymity. Your posts sound like an insult-bot and I don't think you can pass a Turing test. If you believe that attempting to provoke me is a good use of your time, that is your issue.
              • I am having trouble working up the courage to send her an email where I confess my undying love. Can you help me out? Put in a good word for me?
    • that's a good idea - and I've read it's something scientists have worked on. (If you're really interested, see a book called "The Urban Whale". The major problem of course is communication - how do you say "dive! dive!" in right whale-ese? you'd think just the sound of a diesel engine propelling a 90,000 ton container ship would be enough to get the message across, but apparently not.
    • I seem to recall reading something very like that in a Tom Clancy novel a long time ago. In that scenario, a bunch of guys on an American SSN modded the boat's sonar suite to broadcast whale distress calls, and then they went around following Japanese whaling boats with the system turned to full crank. (I guess they had nothing better to do with their $2B super-sub, but I digress.) As one of the sailors put it, "No whale in his right mind is going to get within fifty miles of another whale screaming that
    • Yes, but eventually the whales will become confused and then go insane when the buoys start in with the whalian equivalent of "Low battery! Low battery! Low battery!"
  • DNA studies apparently show that the Right Whales around Australia and New Zealand are not a single species, as had been thought, but two genetically distinct species. This has been found to be the case of other cetaceans - Hector's Dolphin, I think, is another where they had to re-estimate populations because there were multiple species counted as a single one. I don't know if DNA studies have been carried out on the populations of Right Whales of the US coast. Because there are multiple species involved, though, the term "Right Whale" only refers to a physiological description, not a biological one, and should go the way of other dead labels. Problem is, labels are used to define what is protected, so doing that might be harmful by removing essential protections, even though it should be helpful by allowing an accurate description of what is in the sea.
  • Present day whaling by Japan and Norway is from plentyfull stocks and government oversight. Right whales are actually endangered and in the US by shipping. Guess who Greenpeace is going after.
  • Miscounting whales (Score:3, Informative)

    by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) * on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @02:46AM (#23235444) Homepage Journal
    There are not 350 right whales in the world. There are approximately 8000-8500 of them.
    There are about 350 right whales in the north Atlantic.
    • by kahei ( 466208 )
      It's a different species -- there are 4 species in the genus of which 2 (the north atlantic and north pacific) are critically endangered.

      (the above is roughly accurate -- the generi in question are currently up for re-classification)
  • Japanese whaling fleets; now they don't have to search for the whales, now they just hang around the bright orange buoys and wait for them! Fucking smart idea, really.
  • Amazing to see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by notthepainter ( 759494 ) <oblique&alum,mit,edu> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @06:45AM (#23236372) Homepage
    I live on the Outer Cape in Cape Cod Massachusetts. Herring Cove Beach is about 7 miles from my home. You can just drive to the beach and see them off shore. Now, the bulk of the whale are off shore and can't be seen, but there were about 40 there on Saturday. The whale watch boats are often kept at bay by the Provincetown Police, but even if the police aren't there, the boats do the right thing and stay a bit off. I've seen countless dolphins in a single field of view of my binoculars.

    If you are in the area, you really should go see this. Bring the best binoculars you can, but even if you don't have any, you might see tens of blows per minutes. Long time locals suggest that the shore whales will disappear once the fast ferry starts up, which is in about 2 weeks.

    It is truly amazing. I can't imagine what it is like off shore.

    P
    • I went down to Herring Cove beach on Saturday and sat there staring dumbly for a good half hour. The parent is absolutely right - even without binoculars the spectacle of so many whales in one small area is a sight to see.
    • by sootman ( 158191 )
      I'd love to see it but I'm a few states away. Do you, perchance, have a decent camera and a Flickr page?
      • Photos don't do it justice. All you would see is either a telephoto shot of a whale, and those are a dime a dozen, or you would see a wide angle shot showing black dots. Seeing the arching backs, the dolphins leaping, the gulls congregating around the whales' bubble nets and the Gannett's plunge diving.

        This is something to experience, not see.
    • We were out in Cape Cod Bay on Friday, and saw dozens of humpback whales, and literally hundreds of Common Dolphin. Pictures are up: http://www.sharkytm.com/gallery/capecodwhales [sharkytm.com]
  • And while the wheels keep rolling And another signpost gone All along the road behind Oh can't you hear me calling Like the sad whale song I'm on the road behind Like a sad whale song... Sad whale baby...
  • Maybe this will stop complaints about the Old Buoys Network!
  • http://www.gadgetking.com/?s=whale [gadgetking.com] French guy Michel André was trying to implement a global Whale Anti-Collision System. Good to see people all over the world care about the animals.
  • This comment will most likely never get read because I'm doing it a day late, but here goes. I've spent my life in, on, and around the sea, specifically the coastline of Southern California, and unless the big ships on the Atlantic are different from those in the Pacific, those big ships won't change directions for ANYTHING! Last time I checked (admittedly it's been awhile) laws had been passed allowing the ships to run without any human on the bridge at all, as long as the ship has suitable automated syste

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