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CA - New Tool Aims to Reduce Ship Collisions With Endangered Whales in Santa Barbara Channel

UCSB’s Benioff Ocean Initiative has been working with a collaboration of scientists on tool called Whale Safe, a mapping and analysis tool designed for the shipping industry and displays near real-time whale presence information.

SANTA BARBARA—Research has shown ships and endangered whales can become a deadly combination. A coalition of scientists has been working on a tool called Whale Safe to help the two coexist with less danger for whales in the Santa Barbara Channel.

“We all depend on the marine shipping industry for so many of the goods we use, so trying to strike this balance where ships and whales can coexist in this really busy stretch of ocean,” said Morgan Visalli, University of California Santa Barbara’s Benioff Ocean Initiative’s Project Lead/Coordinator for Whale Safe.

The 70-mile channel is a feeding ground for multiple endangered whale species including blues, humpbacks and fins. It is also a bustling stretch of water for the marine shipping industry, as part of the route to the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, which together, rank as the world’s 9th busiest container port complex.

On Sept. 17, Whale Safe launched its online tool, with the goal of reducing the risk of fatal ship collisions with endangered whales.

“I’m hopeful the data coming out of Whale Safe will empower folks with the data they do need to stop these collisions from happening so we can protect these endangered species,” Visalli said.

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