For a long time now, scientists have used satellite tags to locate the mammoth blue whales along the West Coast. This they did by studying how these animals find enough small krill to fill their massive stomachs. Now an advanced tool has been developed for this.
A system called WhaleWatch has been developed by scientists from NOAA Fisheries, Oregon State University and the University of Maryland. This combines the tracking data collection with satellite observations of ocean conditions to predict the blue whale locations off the West Coast.
A research paper was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology which describes how the WhaleWatch system was developed and how it works. The funding for this project was provided by NASA. The oceanic observations will be drawn from the satellites of NOAA and NASA satellites.
WhaleWatch generates monthly blue whale hotspot maps to alert ships of those locations where these whales are found. This will enable the protection of these endangered species.
NOAA Fisheries has started posting these monthly maps on its website. Many years of tag data is used to study the behavior of these whales, said Elliot Hazen, one of the scientists.