Tuesday , June 22 2021

New England researchers for aquarium research use a trick simulator to help conserve endangered whales







More than 80 percent of the legal whales in the North Atlantic, at least once in their lives, are entangled in fishing lines, making it the leading cause of death for critically endangered species of whales, but now, with the help of new technology for simulation of involvement, scientists the New England Aquarium works to change that.

Tim Werner, a senior scientist in the aquarium Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, is one of several researchers at an aquarium that has collaborated with Duke University scientists to develop a graphic model that gives them the opportunity to study the entanglement and potential solutions in practical and humane representatives of the the aquarium, said in a press release.

"This gives us a tool that we can use immediately to say:" If you have an idea, let's evaluate it "and we can evaluate it over a few days, and not over several years," said Werner in a telephone interview .

The purpose of developing the model was to turn to bypassing the inverter in order to find ways to modify fishing gear so that it would be less risk for forward-moving marine animals.

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"If you can re-create the way the rope wraps the animal in the model, you can figure out how to change the equipment to reduce the risk of tangling all together," said Werner.

The findings of the researchers were published on Monday in the journal Marine Science for Mammals. Researchers from the aquarium worked with Duke professors Lawrence Howell and Doug Novacek.

The graphical model designed by scientists is an interactive simulator that allows them to control the virtual right-hand whale on the screen using a video game controller, allowing them to pass the whale through a field on virtual fishing lines.

When the whale contacts a fishing line, it makes the types of swimming that a real whale would be in that scenario, as it moves away from the rope, giving researchers accurate and valuable information on how whales and fishing gear work, officials said.

Fishing lines in the simulator respond to the virtual whale's contact in a way that they would do in real life. Scientists are able to adapt the ability, flexibility and flotation of the line to suit those of the different types of ropes that whales meet in the ocean, officials said.

If the whale is corroded on a fishing line, the rope can be entangled in the mouth, preventing its ability to feed. The rear fishing gear, which tends to affect the whales whose fins engulf, creates a drag in the water that compels the whales to infuse additional energy just to move, posing a constant and serious burden that over time can lead to death, officials say.

North Atlantic powder whale is one of the three species of whales living in the waters of New England, which is in the midst of an unusual event of mortality. Scientists believe the cause of all three is human interaction, the North Atlantic legend whales and Atlantic cat whales that are particularly affected by the contamination of the fishing line, according to NOAA fishing
.

In the North Atlantic, there may be another 411 righteous whales and the number is expected to decline, as there were no new reported births in the last breeding season. Only about 71 of the remaining whales are women of the breeding age, officials said.

"If you combine several things, including the increase in incidents and the severity of the seizures, without new faces being added to the population this year, it's a formula for disappearing," Werner said.

If nothing is done to reduce the number of seizures, soon, the North Atlantic whales could disappear in a few decades, he said.

But true whales are not alone in fighting fishing lines.

Other marine animals, including sea turtles, are regularly stuck in fishing gear. Werner said he hoped to use in the future the graphic model technology of other animals from the ocean, more precisely leather sea turtles, from which the aquarium veterinarians treated two in the past three weeks.

Werner and his team are also working on long-term solutions to the problem of flight. NOAA recently awarded $ 226,000 to conduct a survey of carefree fishing gear that the lobsters could use along the Maine coast instead of the traditional vertical lines causing convoys.

Vicky Spruil, president and chief executive of the aquarium, said in a statement that he hoped the work of the team would have a lasting impact on populations of local marine species.

"Our mission is to find protective measures that will make a difference," she said.

Andres Picon can also be reached at [email protected] Follow it on Twitter on @andpicon.


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