Learn about BLUE BOAT Initiative
About Blue Boat
To date, no global effort has considered the importance of the ocean as a carbon sink nor the key ecological role that whales play in mitigating climate change.
Whales contribute to the removal of carbon from the atmosphere through the accumulation of large amounts of carbon in their bodies. Once they die, they usually sink to the bottom of the sea. A single 40-ton gray whale is capable of absorbing two tons of carbon, which could be trapped on the sea floor for more than 2,000 years.
THE BLUE BOAT INITIATIVE
The Blue BOAT Initiative (Buoy Oceanographic Alert Technology) is a joint national project between the Chilean Ministry of the Environment and MERI Foundation, which aims to preserve and protect whales, while monitoring the oceans, studying and valuing marine ecosystem services, particularly those associated with the role of whales in the capture of CO2, necessary to address climate change.
Maritime traffic is one of the main threats to marine mammals, mainly due to injuries, including strandings, caused by collisions and the noise generated by vessels, which leads to hearing damage and loss of the likelihood of communication, among other consequences.
The Blue BOAT Initiative is a complex whale early warning system for vessels that includes a network of smart buoys, and a passive acoustic and oceanographic monitoring system. This initiative is an addition to previously established protocols that protect whales on maritime traffic routes.
The Blue BOAT Initiative will begin in the Chilean Patagonia, in the Gulf of Corcovado, an area that holds the largest number of blue whales, to then cover the rest of the country. This project seeks to be replicable at a regional level along the Pacific, in order to protect the whales along their migratory routes.
Whales transport nutrients and improve the productivity of the ecosystem. They also help to reduce the stock of CO2 in the atmosphere, first by stimulating the appearance of phytoplankton, and second by accumulating large amounts of carbon in their bodies, which they take to the bottom of the sea when they die, making the ocean the largest store of CO2 in the ecosystem.
The Blue BOAT Initiative: a national project of the Chilean Ministry of the Environment and MERI Foundation
The Blue BOAT Initiative is organized under the following institutional framework:
Ensuring the correct execution of the project, and defining the actions needed to fulfill the project objectives
– Ministry of the Environment
– International Monetary Fund
– Fundación MERI
– Filantropía Cortés Solari
Giving support and advice in strategic decision-making, and provide networks and recommendations to increase the project visibility, impact and scope
Fundación Sense of Silence, Fondo Monetario Internacional, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología, Conocimiento e Innovación, DIRECTEMAR, DIRINMAR, SUBPESCA, SERNAPESCA, EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) – Programa Oceános, IPCC, NOAA
Multi-sectoral expert groups from different areas that make recommendations on issues related to the implementation of the project according to each stage.
Scientific Work Group
This group will address various aspects of Bioacoustics, such as its applications to studies of marine biodiversity in general, and whales in particular, among other matters. It will also address the discussion of the oceans as ecosystems that mitigate climate change and the use of physical oceanographic data.
These expert work groups will discuss the available technologies, the analysis of the records obtained, as well as to evaluate the strategic places where this methodology is suitable to replicate the project in later stages.
Science and Citizen
This group will bring together key civil society and scientific stakeholders involved in conservation, climate change and the role of ecosystem services in climate change mitigation. Its objective will be to propose initiatives aimed at raising awareness of this issue. Climate change is a multidimensional phenomenon that requires multiple approaches, ranging from the environmental to the social, cultural and financial.
This group will discuss how to promote a mandatory regulation of maritime traffic to avoid collisions with cetaceans. Reducing the threat of collisions is a complex issue to address, due to the variation of factors depending on the region and the season. Today, 90% of the world’s freight is transported by sea, and the risk of collisions between vessels and cetaceans has been identified by the International Whaling Commission as a worldwide conservation concern.
Technology Work Group
This group shall address the logistics necessary for the proper development of the project, from the acoustic and oceanographic aspects to all the aspects related to the proper installation, transmission, storage and processing of the data collected. This project will install and connect the first South American network of sonobuoys, with sensors for temperature, pH, salinity, nutrients, chlorophyll and dissolved oxygen, to record variations and serve as indicators of climate change in the oceans.
The Role of Oceans
in Climate Change
All the inhabitants of the planet depend directly or indirectly on the oceans, as they provide 55% of the oxygen we breathe and are an important source of resources, such as energy, food, medicine, transportation, tourism, among others. In addition, they act as thermoregulators, since they absorb a thousand times more heat than the atmosphere, and redistribute it through the ocean currents.
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