A new smart phone app called Spotter Pro has been developed to log observations of whales. Spotter Pro is an iOS app that leverages the built-in sensors and network capability of iPhones and iPads to facilitate capturing data on field sightings of marine mammals and upload them to a common database at WhaleAware.org. The automation of major aspects of field data collection allows NOAA and collaborating agencies to have near-real-time spatial data to track the distribution of marine mammals along the coast of California. Michael Carver (CBNMS), Dr. Jaime Jahnke and Pete Winch recently trained San Francisco whale watch boat naturalists to use Spotter Pro.
Spotter Pro was developed in an effort to streamline data collection efforts, improve data quality, and make the data more accessible in near-real time to resource managers. Sanctuary staff from the West Coast Region collaborated with Conserve.IO, the International Fund for Animal Welfare whale program, Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) and the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop and test Spotter Pro.
Lethal collisions between endangered whales and commercial shipping are a major concern for west coast sanctuaries. The co-occurrence of whales and ships creates an elevated risk of vessel strike, and mortality to whales. Sanctuaries can use a data from a coordinated volunteer sighting network – composed of the whale watching community, recreational boaters, fishing community and large commercial operators – to inform when to request vessels slow down and assist with NOAA’s mission to protect these endangered species.
You must be a member of a Conserve.IO Spotter customer organization to access this application. The Spotter Pro App automatically manages geo-recording of trips, positions and bearing of sightings, and storing all required observations and notes for a survey. During a trip, no internet connection is required and all data are stored locally and can be edited until synced to the Conserve.IO cloud server – which provides user and organizational level access to collected data as well as data export.