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Montreal-based startup gets $850,000 to help protect whales using artificial intelligence

The tail of a humpback whale comes out in the morning fog, on the Saint-Lawrence river in Tadoussac Que., Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. (Jacques Boissinot, The Canadian Press) The tail of a humpback whale comes out in the morning fog, on the Saint-Lawrence river in Tadoussac Que., Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. (Jacques Boissinot, The Canadian Press)
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The federal Fisheries Department is giving $850,000 to a Montreal-based startup that has developed artificial intelligence technology to protect whales and other marine life from ship strikes.

Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier made the announcement Wednesday at the offices of Whale Seeker Inc.

Founded in 2018, the company brings together biologists, data scientists and software developers to monitor marine mammals through AI.

Whale Seeker says it has developed an AI tool that analyzes aerial images and can detect marine mammals 25 times faster than the human eye.

It says cargo ships can use the application to avoid collisions with whales, dolphins and porpoises, while the government can use it to determine whether fishing zones need to be closed.

In May 2023, UNESCO's International Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence selected Whale Seeker's technology as one of the world's top 10 artificial intelligence projects for sustainable development.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 29, 2024.

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