Fellows in the News

The U.S. Navy is enlisting the help of seals – but not the kind of highly trained special operatives with whom it usually associates.

Real seals, specifically their whiskers, may be the key to a new way for ships and underwater vehicles to sense their environment, scientists think.

When a fish swims by, a hungry seal senses the wake with its whiskers. It can tell characteristics of the fish, such as shape and size, and track the location even when it’s murky or dark.

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The seal whiskers project shows “remarkable promise” for the Navy because a seal’s sensory capabilities are so specific and sensitive, said Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researcher Andrea Bogomolni, who leads the Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium.

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