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Trained Dogs Can Find Buried Oil

MAY 18, 2020 — Dogs comfort us, keep us safe, and occasionally bring us our slippers. Now they are a new and promising tool in oil spill assessment and clean up. In the weekly OR&R lecture series, “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know” (Thursdays at 3:00 PM ET) Dr. Ed Owens, a world recognized oil spill response expert, discussed the amazing accuracy of trained dogs in finding buried oil

A dog studying a multi-armed training device.
A dog in training. Image credit: NOAA.

In field trials, these dogs successfully identified buried oil, often with accuracy rates higher than 97%. This includes recent trials where weathered (old) oil was buried as deep as five meters. The implications for increased accuracy, reduced risk to humans on rocky shores, speed (covering sand beaches at kilometers-per-hour rather than meters-per-hour), and cost savings are enormous. The next time you see dogs at an oil spill, you will know they are working.

Join us next Thursday on “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know” when Dr. Tim Nedwed of ExxonMobil R&D will discuss their remotely controlled jet ski for corralling, igniting, and monitoring floating oil.

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Last updated Tuesday, May 26, 2020 8:28am PDT