CMA CGM Installs Whale Monitoring Buoys off U.S. East Coast

Courtesy CMA CGM

Published Aug 21, 2022 9:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

Last week, CMA CGM and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) deployed an acoustic monitoring buoy about 39 miles off the coast of Savannah, Georgia.

The buoy, named as “CMA CGM Sea Guardian-Savannah,” is designed to increase North Atlantic right whale detection efforts along the heavily trafficked East Coast, helping to protect the critically endangered species. Another CMA CGM-sponsored buoy was launched off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia last month.

Although North Atlantic right whales are protected under the US Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal protection Act, they face serious threats to their survival. Risks such as fishing nets, ship strikes and noise pollution, which disrupts whales’ communication, are all abundant off the East Coast.

Recent estimates show only 336 right whales are remaining on the planet. The installation of the buoys is meant to aid in the whale’s survival and fill a critical gap in monitoring.

The Norfolk and Savannah locations were chosen because the ports there are among the busiest in the US, often putting ships in the path of migrating whales.

“In addition to the assembly and deployment of the new buoys to alert mariners of the presence of whales near critical US ports, CMA CGM and WHOI will lead in the development of an industry consortium focused on reducing risks to right whales from vessels. CMA CGM will also support the continued operation of the WHOI-developed digital acoustic monitoring buoys,” said CMA CGM in a statement.

According to Heather Wood, CMA CGM Head of Sustainability-North America, the acoustic monitoring buoy is supposed to record underwater sounds and transmit them digitally to a satellite, which in turn sends the data to the WHOI. There, scientists are able to determine the kind of marine animals along a shipping path as well as their species, and relay that information to mariners.

The CMA CGM initiative comes in the wake of a new proposed regulation by NOAA, mandating that vessels must slow to10 knots or less in designated areas of the East Coast to limit ship strike incidents involving right whales.