SGS Celebrates Graduate Student Winners of Federal Tri-Council Awards - Cody Carlyle

Author: Andrea

Posted on Dec 21, 2022

Category: Student Stories , Money Matters

Profile of: Cody Carlyle 

Award Received: Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council)

Awarded for the project: Factors influencing the detection of whales using high resolution satellite imagery

Faculty: Science

Department: Biological Sciences

Project supervised by: Dr. Kimberley Davies

Whales are understudied due to their large distributions and new methods to more effectively study whale populations are necessary. Recent technological advances have produced high resolution satellite imagery capable of detecting whales at the surface of the ocean. However, whales occupy various marine habitats (e.g., coastal, pelagic, estuarine) and exhibit behaviours (e.g. foraging, socializing, travelling) which can influence their detection by satellite imagery. The North Atlantic right whale (NARW) is extensively monitored in the Atlantic Ocean by vessel, aircraft, and acoustic methods which we can compare with counts obtained from satellite imagery to understand the factors impacting satellite-based detection of whales. This is essential information to monitor whale populations using satellite imagery. Personally, I am fascinated by the importance of marine predators such as whales to healthy oceans. I hope that improved understanding of whale populations will allow humans to mitigate our impacts to whales and the ocean.

With approximately 340 individuals, NARW are critically endangered and threatened by ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements. NARW forage along the coast of New Brunswick and improved monitoring of NARW will help government decision-making so Canada can continue its leadership in NARW conservation efforts. I collaborate with the Canada Space Agency funded SmartWhales initiative to improve whale detection technology that allows government to adaptively manage fishing and transport industries for NARW conservation.