Satnews Daily
December 30th, 2009

Applied Satellite Engineering — A Whale Of An Operation

Applied Satellite Engineering homepage Chrisar Software Technologies (Chrisar), an IT company specializing in software systems engineering and signal processing in the marine environment, selected Applied Satellite Engineering (ASE) to develop a satellite data solution for a whale reporting program that uses the global satellite network operated by Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM). The Real-time Plotting of Cetaceans (REPCET) program is being deployed in the Pelagos Sanctuary for Marine Mammals, a conservation area in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea.

An estimated 3,000-5,000 sperm and fin whales live in this region, which has a very high density of shipping traffic, including high-speed ferries, which pose a danger to whales on or near the surface of the ocean. Whale collisions can injure or kill the animal and also cause significant damage to the ship and its passengers and crew. ASE is using the Iridium short-burst data (SBD) modem with specialized software customized for this application. Watchstanders on participating ships will use the system to record and transmit reports of whale sightings through the Iridium network to a central server, which will save it into a database and transmit warnings via Iridium to all subscribing ships whose tracks are likely to take them close to the animals. The pilot REPCET project is a collaborative effort managed by Chrisar and Souffleurs d'Ecume, a non-governmental organization specializing in applied environmental engineering with a principal focus on marine mammal conservation. Trials are underway on a small number of ships, and large-scale dissemination is planned for 2010.