[MARMAM] New publication: Whales from space, four mysticete species described using new VHR satellite imagery

Hannah Cubaynes hannah.cubaynes at gmail.com
Wed Nov 7 01:01:36 PST 2018

Dear colleagues,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the publication of our article
in Marine Mammal Science "Whales from space: Four mysticete species
described using new VHR satellite imagery". The paper is available for
early view at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.12544

Citation: Cubaynes, H. C., P. T. Fretwell, C. Bamford, L. Gerrish, J.A.
Jackson. 2018. Whales from space: Four mysticete species described using
new VHR satellite imagery. *Marine Mammal Science* 00(00): 1-26.

Abstract: Large‐bodied animals such as baleen whales can now be detected
with very high resolution (VHR) satellite imagery, allowing for scientific
studies of whales in remote and inaccessible areas where traditional survey
methods are limited or impractical. Here we present the first study of
baleen whales using the WorldView‐3 satellite, which has a maximum spatial
resolution of 31 cm in the panchromatic band, the highest currently
available to nonmilitary professionals. We manually detected, described,
and counted four different mysticete species: fin whales (Balaenoptera
physalus) in the Ligurian Sea, humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) off
Hawaii, southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) off Península Valdés,
and gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) in Laguna San Ignacio. Visual and
spectral analyses were conducted for each species, their surrounding
waters, and nonwhale objects (e.g., boats). We found that behavioral and
morphological differences made some species more distinguishable than
others. Fin and gray whales were the easiest to discern due to their
contrasting body coloration with surrounding water, and their prone body
position, which is proximal to the sea surface (i.e., body parallel to the
sea surface). These results demonstrate the feasibility of using VHR
satellite technology for monitoring the great whales.

Corresponding author: Hannah Cubaynes (hcc57 at cam.ac.uk)

Best wishes,


*Hannah Cubaynes MSc*
PhD Candidate in Marine Conservation and Remote Sensing
British Antarctic Survey/Scott Polar Research Institute
Department of Geography
University of Cambridge
United Kingdom

E-mails: hanbay24 at bas.ac.uk hcc57 at cam.ac.uk
Mobile/Cell UK: +44 (0) 7506 992118
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