SPACEWHALE is a service providing AI-based detection of large whales in very high-resolution satellite imagery. The method allows monitoring remote and unexplored regions in the high seas, where traditional boat or aerial-based surveys are difficult to execute or even impossible.
Mapping whales from space
SPACEWHALE uses a semi-automated process to evaluate satellite imagery, combining state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and manual verification by a team of marine mammal experts.
- In a first step, the SPACEWHALE algorithm scans the satellite imagery for the presence of whales.
- In the second step, our experts review the detected objects to verify the classification and identify the species.
Using this approach, areas with no whales are excluded by the algorithm and large, inaccessible survey areas can be processed in a relatively short time. Several studies document the accuracy of this method (Borowicz et al. (2019), Höschle et al. (2022)).
SPACEWHALE processes the very high-resolution imagery immediately and the results are quickly made available for the client. The client receives sections of the imagery including the detected marine mammals, tables indicating the abundance as well as maps showing the distribution of the animals. Experts from industry, government and nature conservation can use these data in baseline studies and environmental impact assessments.
Our services in detail
We provide abundance estimates for large whales or wildlife species on a per-survey basis which can be used to generate population trends over time.
Using advanced modelling techniques, we create distribution maps of target species in ESRI-compatible raster formats.
In cooperation with our clients we offer bespoke analyses to help guide conservation and advanced ecological studies.
Papers and reports
- In May 2023 our SPACEWHALE service became finalist of the Expo Live Innovation Programme.
- In January 2023, the World Economic Forum (WEF) selected the SPACEWHALE team as one of the winners of the Ocean Data Challenge. This brings SPACEWHALE into the WEF's UpLink Innovation Network, including a mentorship program and partnership opportunities: https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-contribution/a012o00001pUR2pAAG/SPACEWHALE%20-%20Mapping%20whales%20from%20space%20using%20AI%E2%9C%AA
In June 2022, the SPACEWHALE team was named the champions of the 2022 Deloitte Gravity challenge with Whale and Dolphin Conservation: https://gravitychallenge.space/gravity-04-challenge-solutions-awards. This prize gives SPACEWHALE the opportunity to create a baseline for the designation of further marine protected area and to globally promote the protection of marine mammals: https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/innovation/solutions/wdc.html.
- In February 2022, the SPACEWHALE team was given the opportunity to present our applied technology at MAXAR Smart talks. Join our BioConsult expert for this in-depth talk on spotting whales from space: https://engagesmarttalks.maxar.com/smart-talk/spotting-whales-from-space
BioConsult SH has developed SPACEWHALE in collaboration with HiDef Aerial Surveying Ltd. The project was co-funded by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Please visit the website of the European Space Agency (ESA) for further information: