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We Can Now See Whales From Space

And it's a BIG deal for the science community.

It turns out that you can see whales from space, and it's a total game-changer for scientists.

According to Science magazine, advances in satellite technology have allowed for better image resolution. According to Time, these satellites can detect objects as little as a foot wide from way up high.

Now researchers can even see whales swimming at the surface.

Look at that zoom capability.

Giphy/British Antarctic Survey

According to BBC News, these advanced satellite images can be taken from 385 miles away. But they still get sharp enough pictures of the whales for scientists to identify species, among other vital information.

CNET reported that the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey tested the technology's ability to see whales and found a wealth of information, which they reported on in Marine Mammal Science.

The study found 200 whales and satellite footage can help them determine the "abundance, density, distribution and health status," of the animals, per the MMS report.

Knowing how many whales are in an area, and what species they are, can help assess how species are recovering from whaling, and how they're handling new threats like boat strikes and entanglement, according to MMS.

Gotta keep an eye on those whales, y'all.

As CNET pointed out, using satellites instead of traditional tracking methods like boats allows scientists to study areas unreachable by vessel or too costly to visit.

However, the researchers did find that this method may work better for some species than others. Newsweek reported that whales that are very different in color than their surroundings stand out more on these images.

Like fin whales.

Meanwhile, Newsweek reported that humpback whales are trickier, because their coloring blends in. They also jump out of the water often, making it hard to get a clear, still picture of these whales.

But even with its limitations, it still opens up a whole new way to conduct cetacean research. Although satellites have previously been used to track wildlife, BBC News reported that it was used more to survey general penguin colony size or look at known locations of albatross nests.

Using global satellite information to track migrating whales is brand-new territory.


Now scientists can go whale watching anywhere in the world with the the simple click of a satellite camera.

They're already up there, so we might as well use them, right?


Add your name right now to make a difference for dolphins, whales and other marine mammals with Oceana.

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