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albatross surveillance birds

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very cool


New Scientist reported this week that birds carrying radar sensors have been used in the Indian Ocean to spy on fishing boats, with more than a quarter of vessels there found to be operating illegally.

The sensors (strapped) detect radar signals from fishing ships, and then log them against location and time data. That data is then cross-checked against AIS (Automatic Identification System) records.

AIS data effectively declares where a ship is at all times, and illegal fishers often turn their AIS system off to avoid detection - if an AIS record isn't available for a radar detection, there's a good chance the fishermen were operating illegally, New Scientist wrote.

Albatrosses make excellent fishery spies, because they naturally gravitate towards fishing vessels for a chance at an easy meal, and can traverse long distances at sea.




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