PWF Launches Whale and Dolphin Tracker App
The app was developed by researchers at PWF in partnership with International Underwater Explorations, a geospatial information system company that fuses real-time data from a wide range of sources.
With the app, users can record their vessel GPS track and sightings of marine wildlife, including the GPS location, group dynamics, observed behaviors, photos, and other data, directly from their phone. This information is uploaded in real time and added to a global research database.
“We’re excited that members of the public can use Whale and Dolphin Tracker to participate in our research as citizen scientists from any location around the world,” said Jens Currie, PWF Senior Research Analyst. “Their contributions will help us and other researchers track and monitor cetaceans, determine patterns of species distribution, build life histories of individual animals, and study their interactions with the environment.”
Whale and Dolphin Tracker was initially designed and built as a web-based application in 2010 to allow PWF’s Marine Naturalists to gather research data on whale and dolphin distribution and activities in the region surrounding Maui, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Kahoʻolawe.
An interactive Live Sightings Map on the Pacific Whale Foundation website displays all sightings logged by Whale and Dolphin Tracker within the last seven days. A similar map for Hervey Bay is available during whalewatch season in Australia (July – October). Viewers of both can use species and date filters to see changes throughout the year. A successful fundraising campaign in 2016 provided the funding to bring the web-based application to mobile platforms.
“Currently, the live sightings map focuses on tracking data collected from our ocean ecotours that are used as platforms of opportunity for gathering additional sightings information,” said Jens. “Now that more users will have access to Whale and Dolphin Tracker directly from their phones, our crowdsourcing ability and geographical coverage will expand, and so will our knowledge of whale and dolphin distribution.”