Using technology to save whales’ lives

Using technology to save whales’ lives

 

A new application for the iPad and iPhone was recently developed called Whale Alert, which may save the lives of countless North Atlantic Right Whales.  The application functions by warning ships where whales are so that they can steer clear of them.  It was put together by a collaboration between EarthNC, government and academic sponsors.

By using a series of acoustic buoys that listen for whale calls, information is gathered, analyzed and stored to be used through the application by boat captains.  The information is initially sent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), which then processes it, compares the information from various sources and then relays it back.  The application also lets captains know what sorts of conservation measures have been implemented in whatever area of the ocean they happen to be in.

The North Atlantic Right Whale lives off the coast of New England, particularly around Boston Harbor, and there are only an estimated 400 still in existence.  These whales were once a prime target for whale hunters, but when numbers dwindled, laws were enacted in 1931 to protect them.  Collisions with boats account for more than one-third of deaths that occur to these whales today.  By using the new application, conservationists are hoping to reduce these numbers significantly.

The end result is a piece of technology that is not only good for whales, but for boat captains as well.  One can only hope that such technologies will not be adopted by whale hunters in order to make their own efforts easier.