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The Potential of Satellite Imagery for Surveying Whales

BioConsult SH GmbH & Co.KG, Schobüller Str. 36, 25813 Husum, Germany
British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
Scott Polar Research Institute, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1TN, UK
UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
HiDef, Aerial Surveying Limited, 17 Silvermills Court, Edinburgh EH3 5DG, UK
Department of Ecology & Evolution, Stony Brook University, New York, NY 11794, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Those authors contributed equally to this paper.
Academic Editors: Luís Miguel Valente Goncalves, Marcos Silva Martins, Rui A. Lima and Graça Minas
Sensors 2021, 21(3), 963;
Received: 31 December 2020 / Revised: 26 January 2021 / Accepted: 28 January 2021 / Published: 1 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Sensors: Recent Advances and Challenges)
The emergence of very high-resolution (VHR) satellite imagery (less than 1 m spatial resolution) is creating new opportunities within the fields of ecology and conservation biology. The advancement of sub-meter resolution imagery has provided greater confidence in the detection and identification of features on the ground, broadening the realm of possible research questions. To date, VHR imagery studies have largely focused on terrestrial environments; however, there has been incremental progress in the last two decades for using this technology to detect cetaceans. With advances in computational power and sensor resolution, the feasibility of broad-scale VHR ocean surveys using VHR satellite imagery with automated detection and classification processes has increased. Initial attempts at automated surveys are showing promising results, but further development is necessary to ensure reliability. Here we discuss the future directions in which VHR satellite imagery might be used to address urgent questions in whale conservation. We highlight the current challenges to automated detection and to extending the use of this technology to all oceans and various whale species. To achieve basin-scale marine surveys, currently not feasible with any traditional surveying methods (including boat-based and aerial surveys), future research requires a collaborative effort between biology, computation science, and engineering to overcome the present challenges to this platform’s use. View Full-Text
Keywords: very high-resolution (VHR) satellite imagery; remote sensing; great whale species very high-resolution (VHR) satellite imagery; remote sensing; great whale species
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MDPI and ACS Style

Höschle, C.; Cubaynes, H.C.; Clarke, P.J.; Humphries, G.; Borowicz, A. The Potential of Satellite Imagery for Surveying Whales. Sensors 2021, 21, 963.

AMA Style

Höschle C, Cubaynes HC, Clarke PJ, Humphries G, Borowicz A. The Potential of Satellite Imagery for Surveying Whales. Sensors. 2021; 21(3):963.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Höschle, Caroline, Hannah C. Cubaynes, Penny J. Clarke, Grant Humphries, and Alex Borowicz. 2021. "The Potential of Satellite Imagery for Surveying Whales" Sensors 21, no. 3: 963.

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