- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (AP) - A facial-recognition software used to identify right whales is being developed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA fisheries biologist Christin Khan tells the Post and Courier (https://bit.ly/20kPi5u) the software could provide real-time identification of individuals among the nearly 500 right whales known to exist. She says that could be an invaluable timesaver for protecting a species so endangered that every single individual is considered vital to its survival.

Khan says that previously, aerial survey flights were the only source of locating the whales. Funding cutbacks have ended the flights in some locations. That’s where the recognition software could come in.

The software will use a sequence of multiple algorithms chosen from a competition among 470 software developers.

Khan hopes to have it up and running by the next winter calving system.

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Information from: The Post and Courier, https://www.postandcourier.com

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