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Despite their interest and threat status, the number of whales in world’s oceans remains highly uncertain. Whales detection is normally carried out from costly sighting surveys, acoustic surveys or through high-resolution orthoimages. Since deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) achieve great performance in object-recognition in images, here we propose a robust and generalizable CNN-based system for automatically detecting and counting whales from space based on open data and tools. A test of the system on Google Earth images in ten global whale-watching hotspots achieved a performance (F1-measure) of 84% in detecting and 97% in counting 80 whales. Applying this cost-effective method worldwide could facilitate the assessment of whale populations to guide conservation actions. Free and global access to high-resolution imagery for conservation purposes would boost this process.
El artículo está disponible para descarga: Automatic whale counting in satellite images with deep learning.