Whales spotted from space in Mediterranean audit

DigitalGlobe satellite imagery shows a fin whale in the Mediterranean Sea.

(CNN)A group of scientists has begun an audit of whales in the Mediterranean, using pioneering new satellite technology that allows the animals to be found and counted from space.

Fin and sperm whales will be observed in remote parts of the Mediterranean Sea using very high resolution, or VHR, satellite imagery, which scientists have described as a "game-changer."
They hope to use the census to develop a system that will automatically alert ships' captains when they are entering an area populated by whales, in order to reduce ship strikes on the mammals.
"Most whale populations have been increasing after they were hunted almost to extinction in the 20th century, but some whale populations are struggling and that's because of things like ship strikes and net entanglements," said Peter Fretwell of the British Antarctic Survey, or BAS, which is leading the project.