Whale Alert!

"Needles and pins, needles and pins,
Sew me a sail to catch me the wind. Sew me a sail strong as the gale,
Carpenter, bring out your hammers and nails.
Hammers and nails, hammers and nails,
Build me a boat to go chasing the whales.
Chasing the whales, sailing the blue,
Find me a captain and sign me a crew.
Captain and crew, captain and crew,
Take me, oh take me anywhere new."
Pirate Dreams by Shel Silverstein

Remember about a year or so ago when the video of the whale breaching right on top of a sailboat went viral? Or maybe you read the story I relayed from s/v Wondertime about the whale that wreaked havoc on a cruising boat in Niue. Those poor sailors might have been some of the inspiration for the Whale Alert mobile phone app that was recently released by EarthNC.

The Whale Alert app is designed as a ship-strike reduction effort to benefit right whale conservation, but you can use it too! The app uses data from NOAA's passive acoustic buoy network to overlay whale detections on digital charts for areas along the U.S. east coast. The app also provides information about right whale management areas, including speed restrictions in certain shipping lanes. 

Ship collisions have been shown to be a leading factor for right whale mortality, so the app was designed to alert commercial vessel operators of possible whales so they can slow their ship and heighten visual awareness. If your sailing grounds are on the east coast near any of the right whale management areas, check out the free Whale Alert app in Apple's App Store.

I tried the app here in the Great Lakes and can confirm there are no whales in Lake Michigan. However, I did find some whale activity when I panned over to Massachusetts with the simple and intuitive interface.

I think the technology behind the app is really cool and highlights just how connected we can be, even on our sailboats. Think about it: A whale swimming through one of the management areas decides to give a whaley groan to one of his buddies about some tasty krill up ahead, and suddenly all of the mariners in the area are alerted of their presence by their iPhones. Craziness!!

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to end this post so I can reply to a text message from a manatee in Florida and answer a Skype call from a seal pup in Baffin Bay...


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