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Humpback whale underwater

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NASA satellites to help protect whales from space

Scientists in the US have announced the development of a new tool that they hope will lead to a reduction in the number of whale deaths caused by boat collisions and entanglement in fishing gear.

The software tool, called “WhaleWatch”, has been developed by scientists and NASA and will be able to predict the most likely locations where endangered whales, such as blue, gray or humpback, may be found during a particular month along the west coast of the US. It will also be able to predict the daily movements of blue whales.

The whales migrate along routes that bring them into close proximity to fishing vessels and shipping. Using 15 years of data to match known whale locations with local environmental and other marine conditions will enable the satellites to predict probable locations for the whales based on the current conditions they record from space.

The tool will be released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this year and the announcement comes just a week after data was released showing record numbers of whale deaths from fishing gear entanglement along this coast.