A Whale of a Deep Learning Story

Once so numerous that early settlers said you could cross Cape Cod Bay by walking atop their backs, the North Atlantic right whale is today one of the most endangered whale species. Decimated by whaling, only about 500 remain. Time may not be on the side of the right whale. But deep learning is. This month marked the end of a contest to develop an algorithm that could identify each of the 500 right whales from aerial photographs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will use the winning code to help turn the manual task of identifying the whales into a speedier, automated process. The contest, organized and designed by the data-scientist community Kaggle, was the brainchild of Christin Khan, a marine biologist at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Khan…


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