Intelligent Buoys to Avoid Whale Ship Collisions

by OldSailor on August 1, 2009


whale Here is a network of intelligent buoys to detect the presence of whales in the ocean and advise the ships at sea to avoid collision with whales. The network is operational at the Excelerate Energy’s LNG facility at Northeast Gateway Deepwater Port (Northeast Gateway) located in Massachusetts Bay offshore Boston.

The whale detection and protection system

  • is supported by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • necessary hardware, software and know-how on whale calls are provided by Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
  • designing, building and deployment of moorings & buoys are carried out by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

The whale detection network to avoid collision with ships at sea works in five steps (Image credit – Cornell Lab of Ornithology) :


  • Whale detection: The presence of whales is found out by the hydrophones in the intelligent auto-detection buoys round the clock within a range of 5 nautical miles at a depth of 60 to 120 feet below the sea surface.
  • Transmission of Whale presence data: The intelligent software in the buoy analyses the whale noise and uploads whale data every 20 minutes to a server at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology through satellite phone.
  • Analyse Whale presence data: Experts at the Lab’s Bioacoustics Research Program further analyse the whale presence data to eliminate false alarm and notify the ships nearby.
  • Alert ships regarding the presence of Whale: The ships approaching LNG Terminal at the Northeast Gateway Deepwater Port receive whale alerts.
  • Avoid Whale collision with ships at sea: The ships on receiving whale alerts accordingly slow down to less than 10 knots and steer clear to avoid collision with whales.

View an interesting video clip from WHOI: Buoys Help Avert Whale-Ship Collisions

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