BOSTON – A new simulator allows scientists to use joystick to swim a virtual whale through a video screen. But this is not a game – it's a serious attempt to understand how the giant mammals get involved in fish lines.
Tim Werner, a senior scientist at the New York Aquarium's Anderson Cabot Center, hopes that the technology will lead to more secure fishing devices and will help critically endangered North Atlantic whales to avoid the real threat of extinction.
"If we can see how they enter, they will help us to prevent it. The technology in computers has evolved into a state where we can model these issues," he said.
More than eight in 10 critically endangered right whales become covered by fishing lines, and almost six in 10 are involved more than once.
Entanglements are the main cause of the rights of whale deaths. Experts rate that there are no more than 440 animals left on the planet, and the future of the species is confused due to heavy mortality and poor reproduction in recent years.
Werner says that video-simulation has helped his team better understand how whales are undesirable – and often deadly – embark on the fishing lines that hang vertically into the ocean.
The marine biologists say that banned whales can not often be fed, and the tension weakens them and makes the females less likely to become calves. This past season, not only a new birth, was discovered.
Academic scientists, working with researchers at Duke University, published their results this week in the Marine Mammal Science magazine, describing how they use a standard gaming console for "swim" a compact whale through heavy water waters to entertain engagement. The simulator shows how a whale could bend, as it shakes a cord, and instinctively a cork and a roller – ending the line hopelessly covered around its body and flippers.
It also allows researchers to reload the symbolic bond. Vikki Spruill, the president and CEO of the aquarium, says technology is the ultimate effort to work with fishermen and engineers to solve the threat of involvement. Scientists who work with donation from the National Ocean Atmospheric Administration are already trying immovable vehicles with lobsters in the Gulf of Maine.
"It's our mission to find conservation measures that are different," Spruill said Wednesday in a statement.
Werner said that the simulator performs what scientists can not do in real life: try a real whale fishing.
"It's not enough of them, and we will not see that they will be involved," he said. Furthermore, it will last for decades, when the species does not have – collect sufficient data.
Researchers say that they can eventually use the simulator to model and study threats to other oceanic animals such as leukuku turtles.