Research Aims for Clearer Picture of Marine Mammal, Vessel Interactions
By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — In an effort to provide a more complete maritime domain awareness picture, a Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) project is studying ways to integrate data on marine mammal migration with vessel traffic information in order to prevent their interactions.
Researcher Erin Murnane, participating in a Karle’s Fellowship with the NRL, is working to develop tracking algorithms of available marine observations — satellite, acoustic, aerial surveys — with the end goal of having an operational picture between vessels and marine mammals.
During a presentation at NRL’s booth on the exhibit hall floor at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition, Murnane noted that because of the elusive nature of marine mammals, these algorithms are critical to developing accurate predictions of their behaviors.
Murnane’s research is aimed at understanding how this information can apply to, and can be integrating into, a tool called Sealink Advanced Analysis (S2A) with the goal of coming up with new models for tracking marine mammals, forming those tracks, integrating them as an overlay and being able to do analytics against the vessel tracking that is currently ongoing within the U.S Navy.
S2A provides global maritime situation awareness by supplying multi-intelligence data and fusion services to automatically generate and maintain worldwide vessel tracks.
Merging data on the operating picture between marine vessels and mammals would allow for better prediction of interactions and potentially provide ship strike mitigation. An ultimate goal of the research is to establish marine mammal alert criteria, according to Murnane.