WhaleMap: a tool to collate and display whale survey results in near real-time


Baleen whales of the Northwest Atlantic live in a highly urbanized ocean. Their recovery from commercial whaling is impeded by anthropogenic risks from ocean industry, pollution, and climate change. Effective research, conservation and risk-reduction action requires near real-time knowledge of whale distribution measured using various methods including visual surveys from vessels or planes or acoustic surveys from autonomous platforms. The rapid collation and dissemination of whale detections and survey effort is critical but challenging given the number and variety of survey organizations and methodologies at work along the east coast of the US and Canada. There are long term databases for whale survey data, such as that maintained by the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium (narwc.org), and crowd-source reporting tools (e.g., Whale Alert) but WhaleMap is the only dedicated system specifically designed to collate and display all available near real-time whale detections and survey effort. Use cases vary widely. For example, WhaleMap is currently used by: government managers to design and implement risk-mitigation strategies, members of military or industry to plan safe operations, researchers to coordinate survey efforts and explore patterns in whale distribution, and members of the general public to learn about and follow along with whale conservation activities.

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