"Tracking whales from space.” an interview with Woody Turner

Recorded February 27, 2019 Archived February 27, 2019 20:38 minutes
Id: APP616995


Woody Turner, the program scientist for biological diversity and manager for ecological forecasting programs at NASA, and one of the few people in the world who directly harness the power of space to solve a whale of a problem – the conservation of species at risk. While this involves using satellites to predict the locations of North Atlantic right whales and other whale species and then relaying this information to boats to lower the risk of potentially fatal ship strikes, it also involves smaller species such as such as Atlantic sturgeon in Delaware Bay.

By tracking sea surface temperature and the levels of chlorophyll in the water through color changes on satellite images, he can predict the places that these endangered species might be, and relay this information to fishermen so they can avoid setting nets and traps in these areas. Turner says that this type of work has increased hugely – when he first started, there was no such thing as a biological diversity program from space. (Recorded 13 December 2018)


  • Woody Turner
  • Josh Learn
  • AGU Narratives

Interview By