Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices used by scientists to map and study cetaceans in the Mediterranean and Black Seas
Bracknell, UK. 28th April 2020 – An important conservation project has used Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices to survey the impact of climate change and human activities at sea on the population of whales and dolphins (Cetaceans) in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
The Agreement for the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS) was created in 2001, and has been signed by 24 countries as of today, with the aim of protecting and studying the marine populations. The ACCOBAMS Survey Initiative (ASI) assesses the conditions of the aquatic mammal population at a regional level, throughout the area of the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
The survey began during the summer of 2018 and 2019, and is now moving towards its final phase with the conservation effort involving 20 countries and more than 30 organisations. Over 100 scientific observers have participated in the project, working at sea and in the sky with 8 dedicated aircraft and 6 boats. In approximately four combined months of fieldwork they have covered more than 92,000 km, moving on specific tracks, selected using statistical software.
Data collection took place partly through direct observation, and partly using dedicated tools. The teams working on aircrafts flew over the selected areas at around 600 feet, maintaining a constant speed, observing and photographing the sea surface to catch sight of single animals or groups. The boats collected visual data through sightings, as well as acoustic data, using instruments towed behind boats to capture the sounds emitted by the various marine species.
An important tool for the observers during their missions were the rugged and semi-rugged Panasonic TOUGHBOOK notebooks. The long battery life, easily viewable screens in bright sunlight and their ability to operate in extreme environmental conditions, such as at high temperatures and despite water splashes, made them ideal for use.
The TOUGHBOOK 54, the thinnest and lightest ever built, stood out for its unique 'honeycomb' design for improved strength and its spill-resistant keyboard. The TOUGHBOOK 33 2-in-1 detachable offered fully rugged features, with two hot-swap batteries for long work days and a detachable keyboard, allowing the screen to be used alone as a tablet when convenient.
“Being able to count on reliable devices was crucial for us in executing the project. When carrying out such a complicated initiative, based on real-time observation, there is no room for technical problems, as they would jeopardize the collection of data or waste an entire working day,” said Simone Panigada, scientific coordinator at the ACCOBAMS Survey Initiative.
With two survey rounds in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the ACCOBAMS Survey Initiative has offered a unique opportunity to collect data not only on cetaceans, but also on other marine species (e.g. sea turtles, giant devil rays, sharks, sea birds) as well as on marine litter and underwater noise. The results will serve as a valuable baseline to monitor population trends, but will also be considered in light of existing threats to cetaceans and will lead to conservation recommendations for ACCOBAMS parties.
“Knowing how many animals populate our seas is essential for conservation purposes,” added Simone Panigada, “that’s why we committed to creating a census in terms of density and abundance of large vertebrates, which can be used as a starting point and as a comparison for new surveys to be carried out in the next few years. In this way, we can identify marine population trends.”
 Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine.