Our clients collectively cover a wide range of applications of imaging, but one of the most unexpected for us is that of monitoring herring spawn along the west coast of Canada.

In early spring, tens of thousands of tonnes of herring migrate from offshore to nearshore habitats to spawn in one of nature’s most spectacular events. Nearshore waters flow chalky white with herring milt and eggs, drifting for kilometres along the coastline with densities of up to 6,000,000 eggs per square meter. Although the total numbers of eggs appear almost astronomical, the North American Pacific herring fishery collapsed in 1993, and is in the process of recovering with active management by North American resource managers, and it turns out that satellite imagery can play a useful role as a management tool in this respect.

Close up, herring spawn looks like this:

And from above, herring spawn looks like this:

Our client, a fisheries resource manager, collected some sample imagery from Planet in 2018, to check whether the herring spawn could be seen from space. Having obtained promising results, our client then subscribed to access over the 2019 spawning period up to the end of March, using the Geocento EarthImages NEO platform. Although the west coast of Canada is well known for being cloudy, a surprising ratio of cloud-free images were collected, up to 3 times per week over some of the season, with fewer towards the end of the season. As a result they were able to make operational use of the data to an extent that generally exceeded expectations.

Both Geocento and the client are hoping to make use of the service next season, with some improvements learnt from our recent experience. The client likes the flexibility for monitoring afforded by the EarthImages NEO platform for subscription access to imagery, in terms of imagery discovery, access and procurement. If you would like to find out more about this application, or any other that makes use of subscription-based services using our new platform, please do get in touch with us here.

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