Highlands & Islands

Robot deployed off Scottish coast to listen for whales

Underwater drone Image copyright Compass
Image caption The glider was deployed off Barra earlier this month

An underwater robot is listening for whales and dolphins as they move through the seas between Scotland and Ireland.

Argyll-based Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) first deployed the machine, called a glider, off Barra in the Western Isles on 6 August.

The robot, named Talisker, has since travelled south, and is off north west Ireland.

It is also taking measurements of water temperature, oxygen and salinity.

Image copyright Compass
Image caption Talisker is also taking measurements of water temperature and salinity

Whale and dolphin sounds recorded by the glider will help SAMS' marine mammal expert Dr Denise Risch to understand more about cetaceans and their habits in and around the marine protected areas between Scotland and Ireland.

The work by SAMS, which is based at Dunstaffnage, near Oban, is part of the EU-funded Compass project, which aims to develop long-term monitoring strategies for protected marine species.

Dr Risch said: "SAMS regularly runs glider missions in the north east Atlantic and off the Scottish coast, so this is an ideal opportunity to get recordings in places where we don't currently have data."

She added: "By combining acoustic data with the physical oceanography element on this project we will learn more about the distribution of marine mammals, as well as what drives these."

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