Since 1999, specially trained Channel Islands Naturalist Corps (CINC) volunteers have collected opportunistic marine mammal sightings data while on board participating whale watch and park concessionaire vessels. This dataset informs dynamic management as well as multiple research initiatives. CINMS recently partnered with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Point Blue Conservation Science and Conserve.IO to develop and fund Spotter Pro and Whale Alert. These two apps can be downloaded on smartphones and tablets, and allow users to collect whale sightings in the field and upload data to a cloud server, improving real-time data collection. Spotter Pro is designed for trained observers such as CINC volunteers, and it also collects GPS tracks of the vessels, which provides important effort data that gives scientists and managers a more holistic picture of marine mammal sightings in the region. Members of the public can also assist with monitoring whales by downloading the Whale Alert app for smartphones. If you spot a whale, record it in Whale Alert, and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary staff will receive important information like GPS location, species, and number of whales. Download the app and find out more information at WhaleAlert.org. Contact Shauna Bingham (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out more about becoming a trained whale observer with CINC.
Many partners assisted with app development and procurement of hardware, including: Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Cordell Marine Sanctuary Foundation, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, NOAA Fisheries, Point Blue Conservation Science, Conserve.IO, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and U.S. Coast Guard.
Thank you to our Channel Islands Naturalist Corps volunteers and everyone else who helped record whale sightings!