Superferry to install whale detection system

whaleHawaii Superferry will install a high-tech thermal imaging system that can detect whale spouts more than a mile away, reducing the risk of collisions with the mammals.

Two of the devices, which cost $125,000 each, will be installed on the company's Alakai high-speed ferry in November in time for the winter humpback whale season.

The Night Navigator 3 units, manufactured by Current Corp. of Vancouver, also will be used on a sister ferry scheduled to start interisland service next year.

An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 humpback whales migrate to Hawaiian waters annually to mate and calve.

Hawaii Superferry routes between Honolulu and Maui take the 350-foot Alakai, which cruises at about 35 mph, through areas with some of the highest whale concentrations in the state.

There was concern in Hawaii about potential collisions even before the service began in December, though none have been reported.

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