NOAA Fisheries recently released an article titled Gray Whale Population Abundance outlining their current research methodologies for monitoring gray whale population abundance in recent years. NOAA monitors the gray whale population using a combination of established methods in addition to new technologies.

Using techniques such as visual surveys supported by custom-built computer programs developed by Toyon and maritime infrared camera technology, NOAA has been able to conduct gray whale monitoring surveys to track population growth.

An example of a maritime infrared camera used by NOAA to monitor gray whale population.

“Combining multiple observation methods increases the precision and accuracy of our estimates,” the article states. The article goes on to share how Toyon software for processing video from infrared cameras is used to track whale blows; “The thermal contrasts are distinctive enough that computers can scan the video and count the exhalations automatically. These cameras can detect whales passing at night, when the visual observer cannot.”

Additionally, Toyon Research Corporation research is cited as a supporting publication with the article “Automated detection, tracking and counting of gray whales” by Sullivan, Fennell, Perryman and Weller.

Read the entire NOAA article Gray Whale Population Abundance.