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New App Could Help Save Endangered Whales

New App Could Help Save Endangered Whales

On the verge of extinction, the population of North Atlantic right whales has plummeted to an estimated 300-400 leaving them critically endangered, but a new app could help protect them.

Other problems aside, their slow movement and the fact that they spend so much time near the surface of the water leaves them especially vulnerable to collisions with ships, particularly when they’re moving in and out of Boston Harbor, an area that’s considered high-use for right whales where they stop every spring to nurse their calves on their way from Florida to New Foundland.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and its partners have developed an IOS Whale Alert app for iPhones and iPads that mariners who travel along the east coast can use to detect whales in real time.

“This important announcement caps more than 15 years of work by IFAW on an array of conservation measures, joined by an unprecedented coalition of industry, government and academia all working to save North Atlantic right whales and give them a chance to survive. All of us at IFAW are proud to have been part of this effort from the very beginning and we are thrilled with the difference we are making for the whales off our shores today and for generations to come,” said Patrick Rammage, IFAW’s Whale Programme Director.

The app, developed by EarthNC and Gaia GPS, works by recording and transmitting their distinctive songs and using GPS and other technologies to alert mariners to their location and speed restrictions for the area. Essentially, this technology is allowing right whales to use their own voices to let people know where they are. The acoustic detection buoys used to record their signals are only currently installed off the coast of New England, but can detect right whales within a five mile radius.

“Whale Alert represents an innovative collaboration to protect this critically endangered species,” said David Wiley, NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary research coordinator and project lead. “Whale conservation is greater than any one organization and this project shows how many organizations can unite for a good cause.”

The Whale Alert app can be downloaded for free at the iTunes store by anyone.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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48 comments

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2:29PM PST on Feb 23, 2013

Interesting.

6:26AM PST on Feb 6, 2013

This is good. Now we need to make more people aware of this. Get the word out.

5:02AM PST on Feb 6, 2013

It's good that technology is helping

7:06AM PST on Jan 1, 2013

a good step to help them whatever it takes if it be technology we are a tech world and it this is easy for man to help save or at least give them and edge again we need to do any and all for their favor and protection

8:08AM PST on Dec 31, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

11:25PM PST on Dec 28, 2012

great idea :-)

11:16AM PDT on May 27, 2012

During their migrations they were just spotted off the coast of North America, now they are being spotted off the coast of Europe. It is hard to tell if this is due to their populations expanding or a change in behavior due to climatic change. When a gray whale was spotted in the Mediterranean Sea, it was discovered that the ice shelf over northern Canada was gone, and gray whales could cross it to go from the Pacific to Atlantic oceans. Whale spotting will have to take on a new definition, if it is being changed by climatic situations.

2:31PM PDT on May 11, 2012

Good job folks, I really hope it will help on the long run!!!

9:29AM PDT on May 11, 2012

Yeip! It made my day :)

4:13AM PDT on May 4, 2012

great article

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