(WHALES/OCEAN CONSERVATION) Approximately 15 years of research has resulted in a new, free app that will enable mariners to detect endangered right whales in their path, before a deadly collision. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has collaborated with other agencies to develop this new whale-tracking technology, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Coast Guard, University of New Hampshire, and Gaia GPS. Since right whales are often fatally wounded by passing ships, availability of the IFAW Whale Alert App could prevent future accidental injuries. Read on for details about how IFAW is using iTunes to track and protect right whales. — Global Animal
Ecorazzi, Jennifer Mishler
There’s an app for pretty much everything, and now you can add saving endangered whales to the list!
A new app will now help mariners avoid collisions with critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has announced the launch of “Whale Alert” and said the app will be a “massive step” toward saving these whales.
“Each spring, the last 400 of these ancient creatures swim through IFAW’s backyard just off our Cape Cod headquarters. Early settlers to these shores claimed these whales were so plentiful you could walk across the water on their backs. And generations of Yankee whalers deemed this slow-moving, surface-swimming species the “right” whale to hunt. In recent years, human threats to endangered right whales have increased, and given their fragile population status, the loss of even one of these leviathans can have a massive impact on the fate of the species,” wrote Patrick Ramage, IFAW’s Whale Programme Director.
The organization says the app is the result of 15 years of their conservation work, donations from supporters and the Davis Conservation Foundation, and an “unprecedented coalition of industry, government and academia all working to save North Atlantic right whales and give them a chance to survive.” Several organizations and agencies came together for the app, including the NOAA, US Coast Guard, EarthNC, Inc, Cornell, University of New Hampshire, Gaia GPS and the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.
According to iTunes, the app displays areas in which sightings of right whales must be reported, active conservation areas, and warnings when right whales are nearby, allowing mariners to be aware and slow vessels down to regulation speeds. The whales are also located through the use of acoustic buoys which pick up the sound of their calls. Right whales are often injured or killed as a result of collisions with large ships.
Ramage writes, “This new technology saves mariners time and hassle and will save right whales lives. Welcome to 21st century whale conservation, in which the fate and future of these creatures is now literally in our hands…iPads and iPhones are saving right whales and they’re doing more than that. This magical product, the genius of the scientists and techies that developed the new Whale Alert app and the conservation measures and messages it displays, are allowing right whales–through the acoustic calls they make to contribute to their own conservation.”
Check out the animated demonstration for the new app: