LISTEN: In search of seals, AI algorithm cuts time on counts

Ringed seal. (Public domain photo by NOAA Fisheries)

It’s important for wildlife managers to actually count the wildlife in a particular area, including Alaska’s Arctic.

To do that, researchers take thousands of photos from a plane, capturing images of seals and other marine mammals sitting on sea ice. But how can they do that accurately and efficiently?

That has historically been a problem, says Erin Moreland, a research zoologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But as Moreland told Alaska Public Media’s Casey Grove, an expanding use of artificial intelligence is dramatically reducing the amount of time those counts can take.

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Casey Grove is the host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media with an emphasis on crime and courts. Reach him at cgrove@alaskapublic.org.