UNH's CCOM Helps Develop App to Protect Whales from Collisions with Ships

UNH's CCOM Helps Develop App to Protect Whales from Collisions with Ships

Apr 23, 2012

Researchers at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM) helped develop a new iPad and iPhone application that aims to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales from collisions with ships. Kurt Schwehr, affiliate assistant professor, research associate professor Lee Alexander, and research scientist Roland Arsenault, provided technical expertise for the development of key aspects of the WhaleALERT app launched this month.

The free app, developed by many partners led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sends data about right whale detections directly to an iPhone or iPad on a ship’s bridge.  The app links whale calls detected by a series of listening buoys to captains transiting the busy shipping lanes in and around Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay.

Since collisions with ships are a leading cause of right whale deaths, WhaleALERT is expected to play an important role in protecting this species, one of the world’s most endangered large animals. The versatile software could be adapted for use in a wide variety of situations, such as avoiding other endangered marine mammals (for example, manatees) or keeping watch for marine debris or oil spills.

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