After being hunted for its valuable oil for centuries, the North Atlantic right whale is today one of the world’s most critically endangered species, with a population of just 336 animals remaining. And while they are no longer chased by whaling ships, the mammals still face vessel-related threats—including the risk of colliding with containerships near busy ports.
In response, the French container shipping giant CMA CGM Group has teamed up with famed environmental group the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to protect the whales. The partners recently launched their second acoustic monitoring buoy—now floating some 39 miles off the coast of Savannah, Georgia—after having dropped another buoy a month earlier in the ocean 33 miles from Norfolk, Virginia. These floating microphones will record whale songs, helping experts detect and monitor the location of right whales and then alert nearby mariners to avoid deadly collisions with passing cargo ships.
“This buoy deployment is a great addition to the network of buoys along the East Coast that strive to protect marine life, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. Savannah being a highly trafficked route makes it an important location to use this technology to avoid collisions and to protect the species,” Mark Baumgartner, project principal investigator and WHOI marine ecologist, said in a release.
CMA CGM says these buoy launches reaffirm its commitment to preserving marine biodiversity in the U.S. and worldwide. On the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada, CMA CGM requires its vessels to reduce their speed to a maximum of 10 knots in certain areas recognized as breeding grounds for cetaceans. On the West Coast, CMA CGM has voluntarily committed to the “Green Flag” speed-reduction program that was introduced in the sanctuary near the Santa Barbara Islands.