Marine Observer

The Technology

Toyon Research Corporation’s Marine Observer is an infrared camera system paired with AI-powered detection software. The camera can be mounted on a vessel or land-based platform and used to automatically detect and alert for marine mammals, ships, or objects in the water.

Marine Observer is a tool developed to reduce risks to marine mammals caused by human activities and to provide visual sightings data to aid in scientific research efforts. This technology has been used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to support whale census efforts, by the oil and gas and offshore wind industries for vessel-strike avoidance, and to mitigate acoustic impacts on whales.

Marine Observer’s cus­tom-built camera houses multiple long-wave infrared (LWIR) camera cores and an inertial navigation system for an electronically-stabilized and seamless field-of-view covering up to 90° per camera. Multiple units can be used for full 360° coverage.


  • For cetacean research: Can be used to automatically detect marine mammals and for whale census efforts
  • Vessel strike avoidance: Can be used by the oil & gas and offshore wind industries for vessel-strike avoidance and to mitigate acoustic impacts on whales
  • National Defense: Was designed to automatically detect marine mammals, but can also detect vessels or other targets
An instrument mounted on the top of an ocean vessel with ocean and sunset in the distance
Credit: Marine Observer


  • Risk reduction: Helps reduce the risk of ship strikes on marine mammals, and other objects, by automatically detecting objects in real-time, day and night
  • Automatic detection: Designed to automatically detect marine mammals, but can also detect vessels or other targets
  • Ease of use: Simple to use and can be operated by a single analyst
  • Versatile: Easy integration onto any vessel or used on land for endless versatility
  • High resolution: Provides wide field-of-view coverage with a high update rate (30 Hz)


Company Contact

This technology is commercially available for purchase. For additional information please contact Christina Wright at Note: Any reference obtained from this website to a specific company, product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by NOAA.

Federal Procurement – Sole Source Information

Through the SBIR/STTR Congressional Authority and Policy Directive, companies are eligible for Phase III sole-source contracts to support work that derives from, extends, or completes work funded with SBIR Phase I or Phase II awards. Technologies in the Marketplace that include this statement are eligible for Phase III awards from any federal agency. For more information about Phase III, see this website and reach out to with questions. Find a full list of available SBIR/STTR technologies, access the Award Database on