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Photos of Whales Taken from Space: Hopefully Coming to the Oregon Coast Soon

Published 08/05/2018 at 4:11 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Photos of Whales Taken from Space: Hopefully Coming to the Oregon Coast Soon

(Portland, Oregon) – The images are unforgettable. They’re surreal, wildly new, and engaging in a mesmerizing way when you discover they were taken of something on Earth by something not of this Earth. A few years back, these satellite images were released from a science research group out of Cambridge, England, but there’s something incredibly relevant to the Oregon coast about them – perhaps even urgent.

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Yes, whales photographed from space is a thing, and we on the Oregon coast can only hope it comes to this region soon. (Photos courtesy BAS).

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) released their findings on the subject a few years ago and wowed the world with photos of whales from far above, using high resolution tech that latched onto the blue wavelengths of life on Earth.

The satellite WorldView-2, launched October 2009, was used for this project.

It was really a proof of concept endeavor to some degree at the time, but it’s something that Oregon coast scientists could benefit from eventually.

Currently, they’re working on southern right whales in the seas off South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, all in the south Atlantic Ocean. Whaling there ceased in the ‘70s, and researchers are now using the technology to see if the species is still recovering from that, among other things.

Any plans to share this technology with those on the Oregon coast? That’s unknown.

There is much tagging done by the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport in various parts of the world, and certainly there are a multitude of eyes pointed at the coastline by volunteer groups – all looking at whales. Still, another method would be helpful.

Charlie Plybon, head of the Surfrider Foundation in Oregon, sees a lot of possible ways this kind of technology could assist researchers along the Oregon coast. Not just in counting the number of whales but knowing more about whale behaviors in this area under varied circumstances could prove vital.

“Where they were moving, where they were spending time feeding,” Plybon said. “But I think especially with respect to some technologies, as in how whales behave around wave energy sites. There's already a lot of research going on about EMF or hydrophones, how what's emitted from them affects the whales.”

Plybon added some areas around the Oregon coast are too remote to see whales very clearly or accurately from shore as well.

In the end, it’s the photographs that matter. It’s like a photo essay of otherworldly beauty, taken by NASA-born robots in the sky. That’s what we’ll leave you with here. Photos below:

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