Google’s new AI model ‘listens’ to killer whales to help protect the species -The Next Web

Cool new use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Now if it can only do a better job of spellcheck for me! I feel like I’ve added thousands of words to my dictionary and yet it still can’t just correct those for me. How about you? What would you like to see AI do for you?

Google‘s AI team has developed a new model to protect the endangered species of killer whales known as orcas in the Salish Sea. According to the Center for Whale Research, there are only 73 Southern Resident orcas — a subspecies of the killer whale — left in the world. So Google has teamed up with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to monitor their condition and alert experts in the event of sickness or accidents across 12 locations. Google‘s team trained its AI model using 1,800 hours of underwater audio and 68,000 labels that identified the origin of the sound. When the model “hears” sound of a whale, it displays its location on Rainforest Connection, an acoustic monitoring system for animals. Ivan Mehta reports. (The Next Web)

Google’s new AI model ‘listens’ to killer whales to help protect the species

Navy settles lawsuit, won’t scrape ship hulls in Puget Sound -AP

Lawsuits are always a last resort, but are well worth pursuing. I am a huge fan of them, as most people are too timid to really be a force to stop things like this. Our population here in the Northwest love to work on restoration projects, fixing what they allowed to be screwed up, but protecting the Salish Sea is not something they really take seriously. The people who actually do this kind of work are few and far between.

The U.S. Navy on Wednesday agreed to a 10-year moratorium on scraping the hulls of decommissioned vessels in Puget Sound. The deal, filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, settles a lawsuit filed by the Suquamish Tribe and two environmental groups, Washington Environmental Council and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson joined the lawsuit. In the settlement agreement, the Navy said it would not conduct further hull cleaning in Sinclair Inlet except to the extent it is required for hull integrity tests or to prepare the vessel to be put in dry-dock. It agreed the preferred method for cleaning vessel hulls is to do so in dry-dock where the pollution can be contained. (Associated Press)

Navy settles lawsuit, won’t scrape ship hulls in Puget Sound

Whale Sitings from Orca Network

A deceased yearling humpback whale was found on a remote beach just north of the entrance to Gig Harbor in south Puget Sound on Friday December 18th. She was towed and to a location and examined by Cascadia Research Collective and MaST. “…While the cause of death was not certain, it was in poor nutritional condition, with thin, dry blubber and little food in the stomach and also a significant number of parasites in the intestines and these may all have contributed to its’ death…”
You can see photos and full preliminary report on Cascadia Research Collective Facebook page
and read more in The News Tribune article.

Overall we end 2015 celebrating the birth and lives of the 8 new calves born to the southern residents in the past 12 months, the presence of a fin whale in the inland waters of the Salish Sea, and numerous humpbacks who appear to be moving back home to their ancestral home in Puget Sound.

Ten years after ESA listing, killer whale numbers falling – Seattle Times

The Times covers the decline in the Orca population. Is the tipping point near for no chance of recovery?  Craig Welch reports. (Seattle Times)

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2025279547_killerwhalesxml.html

Pregnant killer whale J-32 was starving, necropsy reveals – CBC

So the latest death of an Orca was likely due to a combination of starvation and the fetus dying in utero. Bad story here for our joint efforts to protect the whales. A full fishing ban on chinook salmon is likely the only way out, as unpleasant as that may sound. They should know if it works within a year or two. In the meantime, here’s the story on J-32 and Ken Balcomb, one of the leading whale researchers, opinion.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/pregnant-killer-whale-j-32-was-starving-necropsy-reveals-1.2872002

Orca calf born to Puget Sound resident L pod – KING.COM

A wait and see attitude to being thrilled about this will have to hold off until we see if it survives. Rate of survival of Orca young is fairly low.

The Center for Whale Research is celebrating the birth of an orca calf in the Salish Sea, the first one since 2012. The proud mother is 23-year-old L86, and this is her second calf. The newborn has been designated L120. Susan Wyatt reports. (KING)

http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/2014/09/07/orca-calf-born-in-salish-sea/15243635/

Two more resident orcas are missing. Now down to 78.

The population keeps falling.  Signs are pointing the wrong way. 

From Orca Network: “We’re saddened to report that the Center for Whale Research has announced that two Southern Resident orcas, L53 Lulu and L100 Indigo, have not been seen with their families in 2014 and are presumed deceased. 37-year-old female L53 lost her mother, L7, in 2010, and had no siblings. L100, a 13-year-old male, was born to L54 Ino and had two siblings, L108, an 8-year-old brother, and L117, born in 2010, gender still unknown. This brings the Southern Residents’ overall population down to 78, the same number that led to their listing as endangered under the ESA. No newborns have been seen since August, 2012.”

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