Montreal-based Whale Seeker has been awarded a $529,000 contract from Innovative Solutions Canada to use its artificial intelligence technology to analyze Arctic marine mammal stocks.

The parties issued a press release last week saying Whale Seeker would use its Mobius AI product to analyze 100,000 aerial images of Arctic marine mammals from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, or DFO.

Möbius is an AI tool that has been trained over the past four years with high-quality data sets that identify marine mammals. Möbius processes aerial images faster and more accurately than humans can then returns data in standardised form, the parties said. This allows for meaningful comparisons across survey years and regions. It uses a “human-in-the-loop” approach, which combines the bulk processing power of computer models and feedback from expert marine scientists.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity with DFO to scale Möbius and use ethical AI for managing Canada's marine mammals,” said Whale Seeker Co-Founder and CEO Emily Charry Tissier in a statement. “Our collaboration will add value to existing monitoring programs and help managers make better science-based decisions with access to fast, high-quality data.”

DFO is responsible for the sustainable management of marine resources, including marine mammals, and it tracks them through aerial surveys to estimate the size of different marine mammal populations. In recent years, the department has relied on manually analysing aerial photographs to identify animals of interest. This method is time-consuming and requires multiple readers to verify counts.

By standardising data analysis and reducing time and costs, DFO hopes to scale up the size and scope of its projects, expand monitoring capabilities, and ultimately make decisions based on easier access to high-quality data.