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South Coast Scientists Turn To Crowd-Sourcing To Reduce Ship Strikes, Whale Deaths

Photo by UC Santa Barbara
Finding solutions to ship strikes is the focus of UCSB's Benioff Initiative

Scientists at a South Coast university are using crowd-sourcing to find a solution to the problem of ships colliding and killing whales in the ocean.

These ship strikes are particularly concerning for the West Coast, which is home to the blue whale – the largest animal that has ever lived and an endangered species. Researchers say there were multiple documented incidents of fatal strikes in the Santa Barbara Channel in the late 2000s, with at least five whales killed in 2007.

That’s why UC Santa Barbara’s Benioff Ocean Initiative has committed $1.5 million dollars to accelerate research. Its director, Douglas McCauley, said a global call for innovative solutions was issued.

“We have some of the best ocean scientists here in the world at UCSB but we also realize that we can do even better work, even better science, even better fixing if we had help from some other ocean scientists that are experts at other universities in the world,” he said.

McCauley said ideas from across the globe are being collected. Several will be funded in hopes of reducing whale deaths.