Putting an ear to the ocean
Michel André discusses the technology available to owners wanting to better understand marine life…
Michel André, who created the first European research laboratory dedicated to the effects of marine noise pollution, spoke to SuperyachtNews about what superyachts can do to aid scientific efforts. Michel, who is based in Barcelona, is primarily focused on remote control tracking technologies, as well as state-of-the-art communication methods, capable of monitoring biodiversity and of detecting the presence of endangered animals in aquatic areas.
“Noise is an invisible polluter, it’s not really taken into consideration as much as other pollutants, however, there is a lot of new data that suggests it can be very harmful to the environment,” Michel explained, “excessive noise and echo sounders not only have an effect on large mammals, but there is also evidence that highlights the long term effects it can have on coral reefs, invertebrates and even the smallest of plants”.
Through the Sense of Silence foundation, Michel has helped to create 150 acoustic observatories around the world which use 24/7 artificial intelligence technology. These observatories identify and analyse animal noises, human-made sound and natural phenomena in real time. They are also able to detect breaches and government alerts to help offer solutions for each habitat.
Superyachts have become much more sustainable and environmentally friendly in recent times due to advancements in technology and engineering, most notably through quieter hybrid engines. Although, there is a growing number of superyacht owners looking to visit more remote and pristine locations which Michel argues are the most fragile. He argues that the ‘Ear to the Ocean’ buoy can help make those trips to pristine locations, not only an enjoyable adventure, but also a beneficial trip for the environment.
The ‘Ear to the Ocean’ is a 24-hour autonomous monitoring buoy, equipped with a microphone and camera. This allows the buoy to create spectrograms, compressed audio streams as well as real-time underwater images. The E2O buoy can be also configured to send alerts through E-mail and SMS, as well as visible or audible signals. This way, those involved will be able to track the progress of the buoy and stay up to date with the marine life detected in the area.
Within the Sense of Silence foundation dossier, is the blue boat initiative, which has identified Patagonia as a starting point for the installation of the world’s first network of intelligent buoys on the East Pacific coast. Through the real-time detection of great whales’ vocalizations, all vessels will be warned of their location, which will allow captains to reduce their speed, and therefore reduce the risk of collision.
Michel André also highlighted the simplicity of these buoys, "Ear to the Ocean is made and designed so that any yacht can have it on board and does not require any specific knowledge to deploy. It just needs to be switched on and it does all the work of recording images and sounds, and transmitting them to the ship and to our servers automatically." With the process being so simple, it raises a pertinent question, should owners feel obliged to allow their superyacht to be used for scientific purposes?
With whales contributing to producing 50% of the oxygen that is consumed on the planet, it is clear to see how the protection of these mammals is vital to our ecosystem. “Superyacht owners can help provide us with an ear to the ocean,” Michel explained how, “installing these buoys in remote areas will provide scientists around the world with much needed data to help us make better decision and provide solutions”.
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