The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said mariners along the U.S. East Coast can now download a new iPad and iPhone application that warns them when they enter areas of high risk of collision with critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.
The free Whale Alert app provides one source for information about right whale management measures and the latest data about right whale detections, all overlaid on NOAA digital charts.
require vessels 65-feet or greater to operate at 10 knots or less in certain locations at certain times of year along the East Coast to help reduce whale strikes.
"Whale Alert represents an innovative collaboration to protect this critically endangered species," said David Wiley, NOAA's Stellwagen Bank
National Marine Sanctuary research coordinator and project lead. "Whale conservation is greater than any one organization and this project shows
how many organizations can unite for a good cause." Stellwagen Bay is an 842-square mile stretch of open water at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay.
A key feature of Whale Alert is a display linking near real-time acoustic buoys that listen for right whale calls to an iPad or iPhone on
a ship's bridge showing the whale's presence to captains transiting the shipping lanes in and around Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.
"The idea that right whales are directly contributing to conservation through their own calls is pretty exciting," said Christopher Clark,
whose team at the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology helped develop the acoustic detection and warning system.
North Atlantic right whales, which live along North America's east coast from Nova Scotia to Florida, are one of the world's rarest large animals
and a species on the brink of extinction. Recent estimates put the population of North Atlantic right whales at approximately 350 to 550
animals. Collision with ships is a leading cause of right whale death.
"Massport is proud to be part of this effort. We are working with our cruise and shipping vessel partners to educate mariners about the
whales, and the importance of this great new tool," said Michael Leone, port director for the Massachusetts Port Authority.