Researchers use AI to protect endangered dolphins

Animal News : Researchers use AI to protect endangered dolphins
Pink river dolphin, photo: Canva

Researchers have successfully used artificial intelligence (AI) to track the movements of endangered pink river dolphins and tucuxi dolphins in the Amazon River. 

The findings, published in Nature’s Scientific Reports on Thursday, could lead to better conservation strategies.

By training a computer network to recognize the unique clicks and whistles of these dolphins, the scientists were able to map their activities across the huge rainforest area that becomes submerged after the rainy season. 

Unlike conventional tracking methods involving GPS tags or aerial drones, this acoustic tracking technology is less invasive and offers valuable insights into the dolphins’ behavior.

“Sound is probably the only sense that we know of that we all share on Earth,” Michel André, a bioacoustician at the Technical University ofCatalonia in Spain, told Nature.

The AI system was trained to distinguish between three types of sounds: dolphin, rainfall, and boat engines. Both species of dolphins are endangered, and understanding their behaviors will aid conservation efforts to protect their populations and address potential conflicts with human activities, such as fishing.

This study demonstrates the potential of AI and acoustic tracking technology for monitoring biodiversity and threats to the Amazon region. Researchers hope to expand the system’s capabilities to detect other aquatic species and implement it on a wider scale. 

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