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WHOI and CMA CGM Group deploy acoustic monitoring buoy near Norfolk, Virginia

WHOI-developed technology in passive acoustic buoys play an important role in protecting marine animals. On Tuesday, July 20, 2022, a new monitoring buoy was deployed off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. ©CMA CGM

July 20, 2022

Woods Hole, MA – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and The CMA CGM Group, a global player in sea, land, air, and logistics solutions, have deployed an acoustic monitoring buoy 33 miles off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. A second buoy is slated for deployment off the coast of Savannah, Georgia in the coming weeks.

© Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The buoy deployment aims to aid in the survival of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale; the species is under serious threats to their survival, and only approximately 336 of these great whales remain.

The WHOI-developed acoustic buoys play an important role in protecting marine animals. Each species of whale creates its own unique calls, and the buoys are equipped with an instrument that transmits information about detected sounds to shore every two hours. This WHOI technology can detect, classify, and report the sounds of marine mammals in near real-time, and the data is analyzed by an acoustician to determine which species are present. Results are displayed publicly on Robots4Whales and shared with mariners. This enables dynamic protections, including NOAA’s Slow Zones for Right Whales, which are areas with voluntary vessel-speed restrictions along the eastern seaboard that are established when right whales are detected.

Locations off the coast of Norfolk and Savannah were chosen for the new systems because the ports are among the busiest in the United States, which often puts ships directly in the path of migrating right whales. The new buoys will fill a critical gap as they join a monitoring network of six similar buoys along the East Coast, bringing the total number of buoys to eight (see map).

WHOI and CMA CGM have deployed "Sea Guardian" near Norfolk, Virginia. The new buoys aims to aid in the protection and monitoring of North Atlantic right whales. © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

In addition to the assembly and deployment of the new buoys to alert mariners of the presence of whales near critical U.S. ports, CMA CGM and WHOI will lead the development of an industry consortium focused on reducing risks to right whales from vessels and supporting the continued operation of the WHOI-developed digital acoustic monitoring buoys. This unique collaboration, started in the United States, aims to have a global impact by significantly improving marine mammal protection.

“The deployment of these buoys are an important addition to a network of identical buoys along the East Coast that will let industry, government and the public know when whales are nearby,” said Mark Baumgartner, project principal investigator and WHOI marine ecologist. “This network will be especially helpful for reducing risks to the North Atlantic right whale, a critically endangered species that migrates, feeds and gives birth along the East Coast and has only approximately 336 animals left.”




About Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930, its mission is to understand the ocean and its interactions with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate an understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. WHOI’s pioneering discoveries stem from an ideal combination of science and engineering—one that has made it one of the most trusted and technically advanced leaders in fundamental and applied ocean research and exploration anywhere. WHOI is known for its multidisciplinary approach, superior ship operations, and unparalleled deep-sea robotics capabilities. We play a leading role in ocean observation and operate the most extensive suite of ocean data-gathering platforms in the world. Top scientists, engineers, and students collaborate on more than 800 concurrent projects worldwide—both above and below the waves—pushing the boundaries of knowledge to inform people and policies for a healthier planet. Learn more at



Led by Rodolphe Saadé, the CMA CGM Group, a global player in sea, land, air and logistics solutions, serves more than 420 ports around the world across 5 continents, with a fleet of 580 vessels. The Group transported 22 million TEU containers (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2021. With its subsidiary CEVA Logistics, a global logistics player which transported 474,000 tons of air cargo and more than 21 million tons of inland freight, and its air cargo division CMA CGM AIR CARGO, the CMA CGM Group is constantly innovating to provide customers a comprehensive and increasingly efficient offering, thanks to new shipping, inland, airfreight and logistics solutions.

Firmly committed to the energy transition in shipping and a pioneer in its use of alternative fuels, the CMA CGM Group has set a Net Zero-Carbon target for 2050.

Each year, via the CMA CGM Foundation, the Group supports thousands of children as part of its efforts to promote education for all and equal opportunities. The CMA CGM Foundation also intervenes in humanitarian crises requiring an emergency response by calling on the Group’s shipping and logistics expertise to deliver humanitarian supplies around the world.

Present in 160 countries through its network of more than 400 offices and 750 warehouses, the Group employs 150,000 people worldwide, including 2,900 in Marseille where its head office is located. In the United States, CMA CGM, which is headquartered in Norfolk, Va., employs more than 22,000 people. Its subsidiary, American President Lines (APL), operates a fleet of U.S.-flagged vessels and supports U.S. territories and American military stationed around the world.


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Suzanne Pelisson

Director, Public Relations

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution