The Boston Globe reports on a new application that hit the App Store and helps ships steer clear of endangered whales. The iPhone and iPad app, called Whale Alert, uses echolocation – the way in which whales commute – to track the whales’ travel patterns in real-time. The noises are picked up by extra-sensitive buoys in an 842-square-mile radius, which transmit the information to the app through a satellite. The area, called the Stellwagen Bank, extends from the Massachusetts Bay to down to Cape Cod and up to Cape Ann.
The app, developed in a collaborative effort between Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary scientists, government agencies, higher education institutions and nonprofit groups, also pulls in GPS and other nautical technology for a comprehensive, real-time view of the Stellwagen Bank, its ships and other environmental factors.
Of course, the whales are at the core of the Whale Alert app. As the Globe writes:
North Atlantic right whales, which live along the East Coast, are one of the world’s rarest large animals, and a species on the brink of extinction. There are just 350 to 550 of them, according to recent estimates. Colliding with ships is a leading cause of death, because right whales swim slowly, live in near-shore waters, and spend extended periods of time near the surface.
Save the whales! I love marine mammals, and whales have a special place in my heart after I once did a fourth-grade project on their use of echolocation. (I got an A, in case you were curious.)
It’s just unfortunate that an iceberg-avoidance version of this app didn’t exist when the Titanic set sail 100 years ago.