AI Speeds Delivery of Information Critical for Whale Conservation

One of the best ways to understand whales is to listen to them. A new artificial intelligence (AI) program named INSTINCT is helping scientists study whales by learning their calls.

The Alaska Fisheries Science Center Marine Mammal Laboratory developed Infrastructure for Noise and Soundscape Tolerant Investigation of Nonspecific Call Types, or INSTINCT. It was developed to detect and identify whale calls from underwater acoustic recordings. Automating this analysis means data critical for whale conservation gets to managers years—sometimes decades—faster. This timely delivery is more important now than ever as climate change is rapidly transforming ecosystems. And although INSTINCT was developed for Alaska, it is adaptable for use across all oceans.

“INSTINCT has allowed us to explore research questions in Alaska that would be impractical to pursue with manual analysis on the timeframes needed for management,” said Dan Woodrich, NOAA Affiliate at the Marine Mammal Laboratory, who developed the INSTINCT program. “We hope to see it become a go-to tool for marine mammal research around the world.”

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