App protects whales by alerting ship navigators of their proximity in real time

When wild animals accidentally step into human territory – and vice versa – the result can often be detrimental for the animal. Just as the DeerDeter strobe system has aimed to reduce the number of deers hit by cars if they stray into the road, a new app called WhaleALERT notifies shipping operators if the endangered species is nearby, allowing them to change their route or reduce their speed to avoid bothering or injuring them.

Recent reports have suggested that the noise of ships traveling through environments where whales reside have a negative effect on the creatures, disturbing their habitat and affecting their ability to communicate with one another. Developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, the app complements existing maritime laws by providing captains with the information they need to avoid whales in their area of operation. Buoys with whale-detecting sensors send information to devices in real time and the app suggests the best routes for navigators to take. The app also provides information on seasonal whale movements, areas they should avoid and GPS tracking.

The app is available for free from the App Store and the researchers hope it could reduce the number of collisions and help whales communicate effectively to find food and mates. Are there other ways we can use technology to help protect endangered species?

Website: www.stellwagen.noaa.gov
Contact: anne.smrcina@noaa.gov

Spotted by: Murray Orange

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