Visual-Acoustic Marine Monitoring

 Gustavo Cárdenas Hinojosa and Antonella Wilby deploying the SphereCam in the Sea of Cortez. Photograph credit Francesca Wilby.

Gustavo Cárdenas Hinojosa and Antonella Wilby deploying the SphereCam in the Sea of Cortez. Photograph credit Francesca Wilby.

 
 

The Fight to Save the Vaquita Porpoise

Vaquita marina, a small porpoise that lives only in the northern part of the Sea of Cortez, is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. As of early 2018, scientists estimate only 12 vaquita remain on earth, and will be extinct within a few years. The goal of this project is to support vaquita conservation by developing specialized technology to monitor vaquita in their natural habitat, providing underwater imagery of the vaquita that had never been captured before. This project is in collaboration with scientists from the Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático (INECC) in Mexico, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. 

SphereCam

The SphereCam is an autonomous, omnidirectional underwater camera trap triggered by acoustic signatures. It was originally developed to take the first-ever underwater photos and videos of the vaquita by using their echolocation clicks as a triggering mechanism. For more information about the design of the system, please refer to the following publications:

In the News:

National Geographic Blog: Brink of Extinction: A Technological Approach to Saving the Last Vaquita Porpoises

This Week @ UC San Diego: Capturing Public Support for an Endangered Species Through Photography

Qualcomm Institute Newsroom: Capturing Public Support For An Endangered Species Through A Photograph

WildLens: A Unique Approach for Capturing Vaquita Footage 

ZOONOOZ: Community-based Conservation of the Mexican Vaquita