05 Apr 2012:
New iPad App Will Help Mariners Avert Right Whale Collisions
A coalition of conservation groups has created an iPad/iPhone app capable of warning mariners when they are approaching areas of high risk for collision with endangered North Atlantic right whales. The so-called Whale Alert app, which is available for free download, sends the latest information on right whale
detections and relevant management advisories — overlaid on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) digital maps — to the mariners’ devices. One feature links near real-time acoustic buoys that listen for right whale calls to the mobile devices. Theoretically, mariners will be able to slow down or alter course when whales are detected in an area. “The idea that right whales are directly contributing to conservation through their own calls is pretty exciting,” said Christopher Clark, a researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, whose team helped develop the acoustic detection and warning system. Developers of the technology hope the system will prevent fatal collisions between vessels and the endangered right whales, which are vulnerable to being struck by ships because they live near shore, feed near the surface, and are slow swimmers. Scientists say populations of the species have dropped to between 350 and 550.