Back in 2017, an international group of scientists discovered that almost 80 % of albatrosses and other large sea birds haunt fishing vessels in the hope of getting a “free lunch”. As a result, the researchers proposed a good thought: why not use this feature of bird behavior in the interests of protecting nature?
To turn albatrosses into a sea patrol, scientists from the National Center for Scientific Research of France and the University of Liverpool have collected small blocks on sunny batteries that can be fixed on the backs of these sea birds. There are three antennas inside the block: the first is GPS for fixing the location, the second for detecting ships radars and the third – for transferring data to the database.
There are already 169 birds as part of an unusual patrol, which clearly showed how to use their help an important problem of combating poaching. As you know, all registered fishing vessels according to the law must have an on automated identification system (AIS), which reports their state affiliation, location and route. The problem is that far from always the owners of the courts (for certain reasons) activate it.
Map of fishing vessels found by albatrosses: Green points – with AIS on, red – with turned off
On the other hand, radar systems are always necessary to prevent collisions with other vessels – it is the turned off the radar and can be fixed by the poultry of the Patrol.
Sea birds are able to detect fishing vessels at a distance of up to 30 km, which allows the devices installed on their backs to inform scientists about the location of the vessel. In the future, having suppressed the information received with the available database and the AIS systems on, we can conclude about the legality/illegality of the fishing operation.
Currently, by scientists, the Air Patrol of Albatrosses has been monitors for six months for six months for the large section of the South Ocean, while finding 353 vessels, about a third of which the AIS system was disconnected.
Source — National Center for Scientific Research