Coastal News

Whale Seeker Awarded Contract to Test Marine Mammal Detection Technology

Whale Seeker has been awarded a $529,000 contract from Innovative Solutions Canada, as part of the Innovative Solutions Canada’s testing stream for technologies to detect marine species and biodiversity.

This project involves analysing 100,000 aerial images of arctic marine mammals from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) using Whale Seeker’s proprietary AI tool, Möbius.

DFO is responsible for the sustainable management of marine resources, including marine mammals, via aerial surveys to estimate the size of different marine mammal populations. In recent years, aerial surveys have relied on manually analysed aerial photographs to identify animals of interest. This method is time consuming and requires multiple readers to verify counts. By standardizing data analysis and reducing time and costs related to wildlife survey campaigns, DFO hopes to scale up the size and scope of their projects, expand monitoring capabilities to new contexts, and ultimately make decisions based on easier access to high-quality data.

Möbius is an AI tool that has been trained over the past four years with high-quality data sets specifically to identify marine mammals. It uses a “human-in-the-loop” approach, which combines the bulk processing power of computer models and feedback from expert marine scientists. Möbius processes aerial survey images substantially faster and more accurate than manual annotation then returns detailed, transparent, and auditable data in standardized form allowing for meaningful comparisons across survey years and regions.

2 A large pod of narwhals credit the Department of Fisheries and Oceans CanadaA large pod of narwhals detected and annotated by Möbius, Whale Seeker’s AI-powered image annotation system. Photo credit: the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity with DFO to scale Möbius and use ethical AI for managing Canada's marine mammals.” said Emily Charry Tissier, CEO & Cofounder of Whale Seeker. “Our collaboration will add value to existing monitoring programs and help managers make better science-based decisions with access to fast, high-quality data.” she added.

This contract will enable Whale Seeker to further fine-tune Möbius and scale up the tool to provide value added to its clients. The project kicked off on November 3, 2022 and will continue until March 31, 2023.

“Fisheries and Oceans Canada is pleased to partner with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and Whale Seeker through the Innovative Solutions Canada program. As the testing department, our scientists worked closely with Whale Seeker to apply their technology to improve the delivery of science advice for Arctic marine mammal stocks,“ said The Honorable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.



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